Mediterranean gardeners´ would agree to hate it´s the Bermuda Buttercup (though it´s not from Bermuda and nor is it a buttercup!) also known as Cape Sorrel or Sourgrass – oxalis pes caprae. On the basis of better the devil you know, let´s take a closer look at this plant and how to control it.
The sorrel family is one of the biggest in the plant world with some 850 family members and they´re almost as widespread and insidious as Coca Cola. Only the poles are not invaded by oxalis.
I know many people, newly arrived, who have carefully dug up clumps of the vivid green clover-like leaves with the striking yellow flowers and carefully replanted them in their garden. You can understand the mistake because there is little more stunning than a sheet of yellow Bermuda Buttercup marching through an ancient olive grove under blue winter skies. Indeed that was how it was first introduced to Europe, way back in 1757. Plant collectors brought it from the Cape area of South Africa and introduced it as a stunning ornamental to gardeners in London. For the next century it spread through Europe, particularly Mediterranean areas where the climate suited it well. Nowadays it grows in southern Europe, north Africa, south-west Asia, Pakistan, India, Australia, the south island of New Zealand, China, Japan, the states of Florida, California and Arizona in the U.S. and western South America – quite a spread. But then none of you gardeners will be surprised by that, I´m sure! In many of those areas it is classed as a noxious and invasive weed.