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creeping oxalis, creeping wood-sorrel, creeping yellow wood-sorrel, yellow oxalis, yellow wood sorrel

oxalis family, wood-sorrel family

Habit Herbs annual, caulescent, rhizomes and stolons absent, bulbs absent. Herbs [subshrubs, shrubs, vines or trees], annual or perennial.
Aerial stems

commonly 2–8 from base, prostrate or decumbent, stolonlike, rooting at nodes, 4–10(–30) cm, herbaceous, sparsely and loosely strigose to strigose-villous or villous, hairs nonseptate.


basal and cauline;

stipules oblong, membranous, margins with wide, free flanges, apical auricles free;

petiole 1–5 cm;

leaflets 3, green or bronze-purple to maroon, obcordate, (4–)6–12 mm, lobed 1/5–1/3 length, margins often prominently villous-ciliate, surfaces glabrous, oxalate deposits absent.

alternate or whorled, usually palmately or pinnately compound, sometimes 1-foliolate;

stipules usually present, rarely apparently absent;

petiole present;

blade margins entire;

venation pinnate or subpalmate.


irregular or umbelliform cymes, 1–3(–6)-flowered;

peduncles (1–)2–4(–8) cm.

terminal or axillary, cymes or racemes, or flowers solitary.


mostly homostylous;

sepal apices without tubercles;

petals yellow, 4–8 mm.

bisexual, perianth and androecium hypogynous;

hypanthium absent;

sepals 5, distinct or slightly connate basally;

petals 5, distinct or slightly connate basally;

nectary present;

stamens 10 in 2 whorls, connate basally (monadelphous), free;

anthers dehiscing by longitudinal slits;

pistil 1, 5-carpellate, ovary superior, 5-locular;

placentation axile;

ovules (1–)3–8(–10) per locule, anatropous;

styles 5, distinct;

stigmas 5.


capsules [berries], dehiscence loculicidal, often elastically.


angular-cylindric, gradually or abruptly tapering to apex, 8–17(–20) mm, sparsely puberulent to glabrate or glabrous.


brown, transverse ridges brown.

1–10 per locule.


= 24, 36, 42, 44, 48.

Oxalis corniculata


Phenology Flowering Mar–Aug(–Oct), sporadically year-round.
Habitat Disturbed areas, gardens, greenhouses, lawns, fields, roadsides, hammocks, beach margins, open pine woods, grasslands.
Elevation 10–500(–2500) m. (0–1600(–8200) ft.)
from FNA
AL; AR; AZ; CA; CO; CT; DC; DE; FL; GA; ID; IL; IN; KY; LA; MA; MD; ME; MI; MO; MS; MT; NC; NE; NJ; OH; OK; OR; PA; SC; SD; TX; VA; VT; WA; WV; BC; MB; NS; ON; PE; QC; SK; Mexico; Central America; South America; West Indies [Introduced in North America; introduced also in Europe, Asia (China, India, Japan), Africa, Pacific Islands, Australia]
[WildflowerSearch map]
[BONAP county map]
North America; Mexico; Central America; South America; West Indies; Eurasia; Africa; Atlantic Islands; Indian Ocean Islands; Pacific Islands; Australia [Introduced in Bermuda]
[BONAP county map]

Oxalis corniculata in the flora area is recognized by a combination of its small flowers (petals yellow, 4–8 mm); sparsely hairy, herbaceous stems creeping and rooting at nodes; and stipules with free flanges and apical auricles. Peduncles and leaves (one to three) are produced at the nodes, short erect stems less commonly so. Specimens have been seen documenting its distribution in the United States as listed above; it may also occur in intervening areas.

The typical form of Oxalis corniculata is strictly annual with consistently herbaceous, prostrate stems. At least some populations in western Oregon are distinctly more erect, with decumbent-ascending stems, than those of the eastern United States. In contrast, stems of O. dillenii characteristically are initially erect but may become decumbent to prostrate, occasionally rooting at the nodes; they almost always become more or less woody. Stems arising from nodes of laterally oriented stems characteristically are erect. In most of the United States, O. corniculata usually occurs in urban and highly disturbed habitats, but along the Gulf Coast it occasionally grows in less obviously disturbed sites and might be native there. However, assignment of nativity awaits a clearer understanding of patterns of variation within what is recognized as a highly variable species.

Variants of Oxalis corniculata and closely similar forms occur in Mexico, the West Indies, Central America, and South America, as well as in other parts of the world, including the flora area. Plants with bronze-purple to maroon leaves and hairy capsules have been recognized as var. atropurpurea (for example, in Florida, D. B. Ward 2004; in California, L. Abrams and R. S. Ferris 1923–1960, vol. 3). Variety atropurpurea in Malaysia has features of a distinct species, differing from typical O. corniculata in karyotype as well as in floral and vegetative morphology and is isolated by post-pollination reproductive barriers (B. R. Nair and P. Kuriachan 2004). Australasian variants sometimes identified as O. corniculata recently have been treated at specific rank (for example, P. J. de Lange et al. 2005). In view of the significant variation in ploidy level reported for the species, formal recognition of these and probably still other segregates may be justified.

(Discussion copyrighted by Flora of North America; reprinted with permission.)

Genera 5, species ca. 800 (1 genus, 36 species in the flora).

Oxalidaceae occurs mostly in the tropics and subtropics of both hemispheres but extends into temperate regions. Species of Averrhoa Linnaeus and Sarcotheca Blume are trees or shrubs, those of Dapania Korthals lianas; all have fleshy, baccate fruits. Species of Biophytum de Candolle and Oxalis are herbs, subshrubs, shrubs, or rarely vines with capsular fruits; Biophytum has even-pinnate leaves fascicled at the stem tips. Seeds of Oxalidaceae develop an elastic, translucent, arilliform epidermis that turns inside out, explosively ejecting them from the capsule (K. R. Robertson 1975).

Oxalis tuberosa Molina (oca or New Zealand yam), of Andean South America, is cultivated for its edible tubers. Averrhoa is widely cultivated in the tropics for its fruits, which are eaten fresh, used in drinks, or made into jelly and jam. Both species of Averrhoa [A. bilimbi Linnaeus (bilimbi or cucumber tree), A. carambola Linnaeus (starfruit or carambola)] are known only in cultivation or as escapes from cultivation.

(Discussion copyrighted by Flora of North America; reprinted with permission.)

Source FNA vol. 12, p. 139. FNA vol. 12, p. 133. Author: Guy L. Nesom.
Parent taxa Oxalidaceae > Oxalis
Sibling taxa
O. albicans, O. articulata, O. bowiei, O. brasiliensis, O. caerulea, O. californica, O. colorea, O. debilis, O. decaphylla, O. dichondrifolia, O. dillenii, O. drummondii, O. florida, O. frutescens, O. grandis, O. hirta, O. hispidula, O. illinoensis, O. incarnata, O. intermedia, O. latifolia, O. laxa, O. macrantha, O. metcalfei, O. montana, O. oregana, O. pes-caprae, O. pilosa, O. purpurea, O. stricta, O. suksdorfii, O. texana, O. triangularis, O. trilliifolia, O. violacea
Subordinate taxa
Synonyms O. corniculata var. atropurpurea, O. corniculata var. domingensis, O. corniculata var. langloisii, O. corniculata var. lupulina, O. corniculata var. macrophylla, O. corniculata var. repens, O. corniculata var. villosa, O. corniculata var. viscidula, O. langloisii, O. repens, Xanthoxalis corniculata, X. langloisii
Name authority Linnaeus: Sp. Pl. 1: 435. (1753) R. Brown
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