Claire Fadul, BPotD work-study student, is the author of today’s entry:
Oxalidaceae is the wood sorrel family, containing mostly annual and perennial herbaceous plants (some shrubs, too). Oxalis has the highest species diversity within the family, with over 90% of the members of this family ascribed to that genus. Of the roughly 700 species in Oxalis, most are distributed in the tropics and subtropics, though some can be found in more temperate regions. Oxalis palmifrons is a native of the arid Karoo region in the Western Cape of South Africa.
Oxalis contains species of ornamental and food value, but the genus also has its “villains”, with some species being pesky weeds. Reproduction in Oxalis can vary from bulbils to runners to seeds. Many species have evolved heterostyly, where male and female parts are spaced apart on the flower (height or location) to ensure they are not self-fertilized. The delicate pink flowers of Oxalis palmifrons are shown on the Pacific Bulb Society wiki: Oxalis palmifrons.
Flowers, though, are not what Oxalis palmifrons is known for — it’s the foliage that is of most horticultural interest. The plants tend to form a dense, low cover over the soil during the winter. Their leaves are quite tiny (1cm on average), but can contain up to 20 “fronds” on each leaf, and will fold at night and reopen during the day. Leaves of Oxalis palmifrons are also covered in hairs, which can help reflect the high-intensity sunlight plants experience in the arid Karoo.