Icon - Arrow LeftAn icon we use to indicate a rightwards action. Icon - Arrow RightAn icon we use to indicate a leftwards action. Icon - External LinkAn icon we use to indicate a button link is external. Icon - MessageThe icon we use to represent an email action. Icon - Down ChevronUsed to indicate a dropdown. Icon - CloseUsed to indicate a close action. Icon - Dropdown ArrowUsed to indicate a dropdown. Icon - Location PinUsed to showcase a location on a map. Icon - Zoom OutUsed to indicate a zoom out action on a map. Icon - Zoom InUsed to indicate a zoom in action on a map. Icon - SearchUsed to indicate a search action. Icon - EmailUsed to indicate an emai action. Icon - FacebookFacebooks brand mark for use in social sharing icons. flipboard Icon - InstagramInstagrams brand mark for use in social sharing icons. Icon - PinterestPinterests brand mark for use in social sharing icons. Icon - TwitterTwitters brand mark for use in social sharing icons. Icon - Check MarkA check mark for checkbox buttons.
You are reading

Bermuda Buttercup: Rethinking a Perennial Garden Weed

Search

Bermuda Buttercup: Rethinking a Perennial Garden Weed

January 17, 2018

Even an invasive flower like Bermuda buttercup can be delightful (when it’s in a vase).

Here in Portugal, winter can be dreary but it can also be colorful. With the right amount of rain, pastures begin to green up around the end of the year, and in early January break out into yellow blossoms. With blue skies on many days, and citrus groves in full bloom and fruit, it makes for the most cheerful winter I’ve ever seen. The undergrowth and fields of yellow are often Bermuda buttercup (Oxalis pes-caprae), an invasive species that can be hard to control for gardeners and landscapers.

But the yellow fields are undeniably charming in winter with their clover-like leaves, long, delicate stems, and trumpet-like flowers. I like to gather handfuls, cut the stems and put them into clear glass to enjoy the bright green stems and yellow flowers for days on end. It’s like having a mini meadow indoors.

Read on for step-by-step floral arrangement instructions:

Photography and styling by Chelsea Fuss.

 When foraging for Bermuda buttercup flowers, try to remove the entire Oxalis pes-caprae plant, and gather as many leaves and keep the stems as long as possible.
Above: When foraging for Bermuda buttercup flowers, try to remove the entire Oxalis pes-caprae plant, and gather as many leaves and keep the stems as long as possible.

The flowers will open in warmth and light and close at dark and with cooler temperatures. Though they will last longer by cutting the stems shorter and removing the leaves, I love the look of the entire plant in a vase.

 An entire Oxalis pes-caprae plant in an all-glass bud vase makes a stunning, minimalist floral display of Bermuda buttercups.
Above: An entire Oxalis pes-caprae plant in an all-glass bud vase makes a stunning, minimalist floral display of Bermuda buttercups.

For a fleeting floral display at home, I’ve gathered the entire plant, bulb and leaves, to display in a special glass bud vase by The Golden Rabbit, a Dusseldorf-based garden shop that is my go-to for functional but beautiful garden pieces.

 Keeping the flowers in all glass, enables you to see the stems, which are part of the beauty of these plants and add a dose of bright green to dreary winter days.
Above: Keeping the flowers in all glass, enables you to see the stems, which are part of the beauty of these plants and add a dose of bright green to dreary winter days.

In additional glass vases (a recycled yogurt jar, and a special Portuguese goblet by A Vida Portuguesa), I’ve arranged the leaves and long stems of Bermuda buttercups.

Here’s how I arrange these delicate, wispy flowers:

Step 1: Foraging for Flowers

 When bringing Oxalis pes-caprae indoors, carefully wash the flowers and give them as much water as possible before arranging.
Above: When bringing Oxalis pes-caprae indoors, carefully wash the flowers and give them as much water as possible before arranging.

Bermuda buttercup is also edible. A member of the sorrel family, it has sour stems (everyone I speak to in Portugal remembers chewing on the stems as a kid and the other day my wise, older neighbor showed me how you can eat the bulbs and stems).

Step 2: Conditioning Flowers

 Keep the Bermuda buttercup stems long, for dramatic arrangements.
Above: Keep the Bermuda buttercup stems long, for dramatic arrangements.

Step 3: Arranging Flowers

In the larger glass vases, I start by gathering a handful of the flowers and leaves into one side of the vase, with another handful on the other.
Above: In the larger glass vases, I start by gathering a handful of the flowers and leaves into one side of the vase, with another handful on the other.
 Next, I carefully place a few single stems that sit taller and add an airy, graceful shape to the arrangement. A few sprigs of grass and stray stems add to the meadow-like composition.
Above: Next, I carefully place a few single stems that sit taller and add an airy, graceful shape to the arrangement. A few sprigs of grass and stray stems add to the meadow-like composition.

Step 4: Bud Vase

 In the bud vase, I place an entire plant, bulb and all, and then add an extra stem for more impact. I love how you can see the bulb through the glass. Bonus: When you remove an entire plant with the bulb, you are weeding out an invasive plant.
Above: In the bud vase, I place an entire plant, bulb and all, and then add an extra stem for more impact. I love how you can see the bulb through the glass. Bonus: When you remove an entire plant with the bulb, you are weeding out an invasive plant.
Other names for Bermuda buttercup (in Portuguese) are Flores de Trevo (which translates as flowers of clover) and Azedas (sorrel).
Above: Other names for Bermuda buttercup (in Portuguese) are Flores de Trevo (which translates as flowers of clover) and Azedas (sorrel).

N.B.: Rethink more under-appreciated flowers. See our Rethinking Flowers archives, including:

Finally, get more ideas on how to plant, grow, and care for various perennial plants with our Perennials: A Field Guide.

Have a Question or Comment About This Post?

Join the conversation

v5.0