home   about   search

biodiversity explorer

the web of life in southern Africa

Family: Oxalidaceae

Life > eukaryotes > Archaeoplastida > Chloroplastida > Charophyta > Streptophytina > Plantae (land plants) > Tracheophyta (vascular plants) > Euphyllophyta > Lignophyta (woody plants) > Spermatophyta (seed plants) > Angiospermae (flowering plants) > Eudicotyledons > Core Eudicots > Rosids > Eurosid I > Order: Oxalidales

About seven genera and 900 species worldwide (Africa, Madagascar, Asia and America), of which two genera (Biophytum and Oxalis) and 205 species are native to southern Africa. Two species are naturalised, and an additional genus and eight species are cultivated in southern Africa.

Genera native to southern Africa

List from Dreyer and Makwarela (2000).


There are eight species (tropical and subtropical Africa and Madagascar), of which two are native to southern Africa.


About 700 species (cosmopolitan, greatest diversity in South America and South Africa), of which 203 species are native to southern Africa and two species that are naturalised. An additional seven species are cultivated in the region.

Other genera, cultivated in southern Africa


Two species, Averrhoa bilimbi (Bilimbi) and Averrhoa carambola (Starfruit, Carambola), of which the latter is cultivated in southern Africa. Both are native to southeast Asia. Bilimbi has very sour fruit and is used mainly as an ingredient in pickles, chutneys, jams and curries. Starfruit has both sweet and sour cultivars. The sweet type is eaten raw and is also used in jams, preserves, tarts and juices.



  • Dreyer, L.L. and Makwarela, A.M. 2000. Oxalidaceae. In: Seed Plants of Southern Africa (ed. O.A. Leistner). Strelitzia 10: 432-433. National Botanical Institute, Pretoria.