Sourgrass (Oxalis pes-caprae)

Let’s delve into the fascinating world of Oxalis pes-caprae, commonly known as the Sourgrass or Bermuda Buttercup. This delightful plant belongs to the Oxalidaceae family and has a rich history and diverse characteristics.

Origin and Heritage

The Sourgrass (Oxalis pes-caprae) hails from South Africa and was introduced to Europe, particularly Malta, in the early 19th century by Carlo Giacinto, a Genoese monk and curator of the Floriana Botanical Gardens. Its common names include Soursob, Bermuda Buttercup, and English Weed. The name “Sourgrass” reflects its leaves, which have a slightly sour and salty taste. The botanical genus name Oxalis is derived from the Greek words for “sour” and “salt.”

Appearance and Growth

The Sourgrass is a perennial herbaceous plant that reaches heights of 10 to 50 centimeters. Its basal rosette leaves are arranged in a trifoliate pattern, with each leaflet having an inverted triangular shape. The leaves are broad, triangular, and deeply heart-shaped, with a hairy underside. During the flowering season, it produces a relatively long flower stalk with six to twelve nodding flower buds. The flowers open upright during anthesis.

The flowers are approximately 1.5 centimeters in diameter, trumpet-shaped, and radiate-symmetrical. They have five free sepals and five lemon-yellow petals that are fused at their base.

The variety Oxalis pes-caprae var. pleniflora even boasts filled (double) flowers.


Connections to Cyprus

In Cyprus, the Bermuda Buttercup graces the landscape during the months of November to May. Its vibrant yellow blooms add a cheerful touch to the island’s natural beauty.

The Sourgrass is considered naturalized invasive in Cyprus, where it thrives mainly in cultivated areas such as orchards and olive groves.

Landscape Dominance: During its blooming period, it becomes a defining part of the Cypriot landscape, especially on islands like Sizilien and Malta, where it is locally known as “Haxixa Ingliza” or “Englisches Gras” (English Grass).

Key Varieties and Cultivars

Oxalis corniculata
A low-growing, creeping species that spreads like a weed in gardens. It produces small yellow flowers and has a unique joint at the base of its leaves, causing them to fold downward at night.

Oxalis purpurea
Non-native (Neophyte) species with purple-pink flowers. The cultivar ‘Ken Aslet’ also features yellow blooms.

Oxalis magellanica
Another non-native species with white to pale pink flowers.

Oxalis acetosella
Native to Europe and Asia, it forms low carpets in deciduous and coniferous forests. Its heart-shaped leaves are rich in vitamin C and can be used sparingly in salads.

Ideal Growing Conditions

Sourgrass thrives in full sun to partial shade.

It is not very demanding regarding soil type.

It grows well in moist meadows, fallow land, and roadside areas.

Flowering Time
Depending on the region, it blooms from March to May.

Winter Care
In colder climates, it may die back during winter and re-emerge in spring.



Sourgrass Pasta

Try to add Sourgrass to your Pasta. More here

Sourgrass Salad
Wild Spinach Salad with Alfalfa Sprouts and Sour Grass. More here