How to Identify Oxalis Weed

Written by ehow home & garden editor
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Oxalis is one of those charming little plants that is sweet in appearance, but can really sour the look of your lawn. There are hundreds of different oxalis and many, to the horror of many homeowners, are purposely planted. But, yellow woodsorrel or creeping woodsorrel as it is sometimes called, does not belong in your lovely lawn. Here's how to identify this cute culprit.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Weed sample
  • Garden trowel

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  1. 1

    Determine that the plant is a weed. Oxalis is a good example of a plant in the wrong place at the wrong time. A weed is considered to be any undesirable plant in your lawn or garden. When Oxalis shows up in turfgrass, it is a weed.

  2. 2

    Evaluate the plant's location. Oxalis favors open undisturbed locations such as woodlands, the edges of driveways and sidewalks and vacant lots. But, it may also invade home lawns and displace desirable turf grass. Lawns that are thinning or suffering from insect damage, disease or simply maintenance problems are at high risk.

  3. 3

    Examine the leaves and flowers. Oxalis has pale green leaves with distinctive triple heart-shaped leaflets. It is often confused with clover. Small yellow flowers with 5 petals dot the stems.

  4. 4

    Note the weed's growth pattern and roots. Oxalis is a perennial weed that grows from 4 to 12 inches in height. It often has a creeping growth habit, but may also be somewhat erect. After the oxalis flowers bloom, light green seed pods develop. When the seedpods are touched they will explode, sending oxalis seeds all over the lawn.

Tips and warnings

  • The scientific name for this weed is "O. corniculata."
  • If oxalis shows up in a flower bed, mulching heavily may help to hinder its growth.
  • Oxalis control is particularly important in areas where livestock might graze. Oxalic acid is contained in the leaves and is sour and slightly poisonous.

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