Thursday 18 July 2013

Oxalis repens (Week 15, Thursday)

I have seen so much of it this week: Oxalis corniculata var. repens (looks like it is mushrooming all over the place and setting seeds within a few days!) that I have had what I call a "genius idea": what if we made use of it as ground cover?

  • It is hardly visible, because it's purple on brown soil, so it is no distraction as you look at plants in the bed; in fact, it is so difficult to see that's obviously why we miss some, and it keeps coming back so fast; 
  • The yellow, dainty flowers and the trifoliate leaves are pretty: it does not look like a weed, so it is pleasant to the eye of the visitor;
  • It is very low growing and the roots are superficial: it would not compete for nutrients with most of our plants; conversely, it would help conserve moisture in the soil at times of drought and would compete with other weeds;
  • It might save weeding time.
Despite being called O. repens, it spreads mostly by seed. The capsules are explosive and scatter it around. So it's not invasive in the way that couch grass is, which spreads by rhizomes. And, for what I can see, it is not too vigorous: in our sandy soil, it comes out with a simple flick of the handfork.

Crazy idea, mine (well... maybe not *that* crazy: it looks like in the US native Oxalis oregana is considered the perfect ground cover), but I mentioned it anyway. Much as expected, it didn't encounter with much enthusiasm... ;p

If only I had more time, and my own area, I would like to make an experiment, where it is not that obvious and with sturdy plants, to see how it might work.

How do you think it looks? 

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