Colin Mills, compiler of the Hortus Camdenensis, died in late November 2012 after a short illness. As he always considered the Hortus his legacy, it is his family's intention to keep the site running in perpetuity. It will not, however, be updated in the near future.

Oxalis tenuifolia Jacq.

A bulbous perennial with erect, slender stems with dense rosettes of leaves in the upper part, each leaf composed of 3 leaflets, somewhat folded and with a rolled edge, and solitary purple to white flowers, to 3cm across, with purple margins and yellow throats, in winter.  [RHSD].  

Horticultural & Botanical History

‘This is a native of the Cape of Good Hope, the neighbourhood of which is celebrated for numerous sorts of this pretty genus. […] The blossoms rarely expand, but continue shut up, in which state, from the fine striped colour of their outsides, they are most beautiful.’  [LBC no.712/1823].

Oxalis tenuifolia was introduced to Britain in 1790 [JD] but this plant is probably Oxalis versicolor L.

History at Camden Park

Listed in all published catalogues [B.379/1843].


Oxalis tenuifolia Eckl. & Zeyh. (1834) = Oxalis multicaulis Eckl. & Zeyh..  Probably not this plant.

Oxalis tenuifolia E.Mey. (1843) = O. versicolor L. which see.

A less likely possibility is possibility is Oxalis geniculata Kn. & West, a Brazilian species.  This is a stemless bulbous perennial with tri-foliate leaves, the leaflets deeply notched, and brilliant yellow flowers with reddish streaks inside, singly on stems held above the foliage.  ‘[O. geniculata] has been distributed from collections under the name tenuifolia, but no two plants can be more dissimilar.’  [Floral Cab. p.21/1838].  

Published Jan 28, 2010 - 05:07 PM | Last updated Jan 28, 2010 - 05:13 PM

Figured are dense rosettes of leaves and flower buds, white with a purple edge.  Loddiges Botanical Cabinet no.712, 1823.

Oxalis tenuifolia Jacq. | LBC no.712/1823 | RBGS

Family Oxalidaceae
Region of origin

South Africa

Common Name
Name in the Camden Park Record

Oxalis tenuifolia  

Confidence level high