Oxalis rubens


Oxalis: From the Greek word oxus meaning acid or sharp
rubens: Red

Current Conservation Status

2012 - Not Threatened

Conservation status of New Zealand indigenous vascular plants, 2012
The conservation status of all known New Zealand vascular plant taxa at the rank of species and below were reassessed in 2012 using the New Zealand Threat Classification System (NZTCS). This report includes a statistical summary and brief notes on changes since 2009 and replaces all previous NZTCS lists for vascular plants. Authors: Peter J. de Lange, Jeremy R. Rolfe, Paul D. Champion, Shannel P. Courtney, Peter B. Heenan, John W. Barkla, Ewen K. Cameron, David A. Norton and Rodney A. Hitchmough. File size: 792KB

Previous Conservation Status

2009 - Not Threatened
2004 - Not Threatened


Oxalis rubens Haw.



Flora Category

Vascular - Native

NVS Species Code


The National Vegetation Survey (NVS) Databank is a physical archive and electronic databank containing records of over 94,000 vegetation survey plots - including data from over 19,000 permanent plots. NVS maintains a standard set of species code abbreviations that correspond to standard scientific plant names from the Ngä Tipu o Aotearoa - New Zealand Plants database.

Structural Class

Dicotyledonous Herbs other than Composites


In New Zealand this species has been confused with O. stricta and O. perennans. Oxalis stricta is not in New Zealand and O. perennans is an uncommon weed.


Indigenous. Australia and New Zealand. In New Zealand widespread in the North, South and Chatham Islands.


Mostly coastal (sometimes inland on limestone bluffs) where it is especially common on sand dunes and associated sand soils. Plants usually grow up through other supporting vegetation and are often missed except when in flower.


Perennial herb without bulbils; taproot stout, woody. Stems usually glabrous sometimes covered in sparse antrorse hairs; erect to ascending up to 380 mm long. Leaves all cauline, sometimes subopposite or whorled, 3-foliolate; leaflets sessile, cuneate-obcordate, 2-9 x 2-11 mm, angular, bilobed, purplish-green to subglaucous, more or less glabrous above, sparsely pubescent below, margins ciliate, sinus cut to about half leaflet length, lobes oblong to obovate, straight divergent, apices broad-obtuse, 1.5-7.0 mm apart; petioles c.7-30 mm long, hairs mostly antrorse; stipules usually conspicuous, to 3 mm long, membranous and truncate or apex tapering abruptly to pedicel, ciliate. Inflorescences axillary 1-2-flowered; peduncles longer than leaves, antrorse hairy; pedicels erect. Sepals oblong, 3-4 mm long, often ciliate; petals yellow 7-11 mm long. Capsule cylindric, 13-24 mm long, thickened in middle, usually densely retrorse-hairy. Seeds transversely ribbed.

Similar Taxa

Most likely to be confused with O. perennans. which can grow in similar habitats, and from which O. rubens differs by its more erect habit, inconspicuous, keeled stipules, and stout, woody taproot. It has a superficial similarity to O. thompsoniae which differs by its consistently hairy stems, leaves and capsules, shorter fruits and smooth or only weakly ridged seeds.


September - March

Flower Colours



October - July

Propagation Technique

Easily grown from fresh seed and stem cuttings. Not inclined to be as weedy as O. exilis. The purplish-green to subglaucous leaves and large, showy yellow flowers make it particularly attractive. Does best in full sun in a sandy soil. Ideal plant for sand country.


Not Threatened

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Where To Buy

Not commercially available

Taxonomic notes

A distinctive, potentially undescribed species allied to Oxalis rubens occurs sparingly along the eastern South Island within the montane to alpine zone, where it colonises mainly active and semi-mobile scree.


Fact sheet prepared for NZPCN by P.J. de Lange 1 November 2005. Description adapted from Webb et al. (1988).

References and further reading

Webb, C.J.; Sykes, W.R.; Garnock-Jones, P.J. 1988: Flora of New Zealand. Vol. IV. Naturalised Pteridophytes, Gymnosperms, Dicotyledons.Christchurch, New Zealand, Botany Division, D.S.I.R.

This page last updated on 11 Nov 2016