When Fysh held up a suurtjie for me to nosh on yesterday and asked what they are called in English I honestly had no idea. None whatsoever. Blank page there.
We spent summers on the West Coast with my grandparents so I’ve grown up with suurtjies, picking them and rinsing them off then pulling all the faces as you get that sour taste when you chew on them. They’re gorgeous and tasty but what else? They’re a weed, I know that. They’re the one mom always said it’s okay to let grow (along with grass) because color is always good.
But what the hell are they called in English?! Do they even have an English name? Even google struggled to answer the “yellow spring weeds South Africa” search and I ended up finding answers by going through the photos and following links hahaha.
May I introduce you to Oxalis pos-caprae…
aka the Bermuda Buttercup :)
It has a few other names as well, the African wood-sorrel, goat’s foot, sourgrass etc… it’s a species of tristylous flowering plant in the wood sorrel family (you should click the link to tristylous, it’s rather interesting).
This sourness is caused by an exceptionally high content of something called oxalic acid. Don’t worry, eating them won’t kill you. They’re reasonably harmless and are even a traditional ingredient in waterblommetjiebredie. The bulbs have been use to deal with tapeworms and the petals are used to make a yellow dye.
However... the key here is relatively harmless.
Where it has become dominant in pastures, as sometimes happens outside South Africa, it can cause dramatic livestock losses – when hungry stock, such as sheep released just after being shorn, are let out to graze in a lush growth of suurtjies, they may gorge on it, with fatal results.