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Oxalidaceae R. Br., nom. cons.
the wood-sorrel family
Oxalis is the type genus of the family, from the Greek name for the plant, οξαλις. This name is derived from οξυς (oxys), sharp, and the plants contain oxalic acid. Members of the family are mainly perennial or annual herbs, mostly from tropical and sub-tropical regions. The leaves are alternate, without stipules, may be simple or compound, and, in species of Oxalis, are often trifoliate. In some species, the leaflets fold down in cold weather or at night. The roots are fleshy (sometimes edible), and some members produce bulbils in the leaf axils. The flowers have 5 sepals and 5 petals, which are sometimes joined at the base. There are 10 stamens in 2 whorls of 5, and 5 styles, each with an ovary at the base. The flowers may be solitary or clustered. The superior ovary is composed of 5 sections, each containing several seeds, which, in some species, have a fleshy aril at the base. To disperse the seed, the inner cells of the aril suddenly turn inside out, separate from the seedcoat, and the seed is flung out from the plant.
Averrhoa carambola - Star Fruit
Illustration from "Flora von Deutschland Österreich und der Schweiz", Published 1885, Gera, Germany, via Wikimedia Commons
Page last updated 28th March 2018