Weed Identification

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
53,891
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
That would be oxalis. For years that has been known as a "do not feed" due to a high oxalic acid content, but I'm not sure where we stand on this one anymore. High levels of oxalic acid do not seem to be the problem that we once thought they were in tortoises, at least in some cases.

I mistakenly fed small quantities of this mixed in with other food to my tortoises years ago, and it didn't appear to do any harm, but I stopped once I learned what it was.

Will @Kapidolo Farms ? Can you lay down some of your vast nutritional knowledge for us here?
 

yaycolin

Member
Joined
Mar 27, 2020
Messages
82
Location (City and/or State)
Huntington Beach, CA
That would be oxalis. For years that has been known as a "do not feed" due to a high oxalic acid content, but I'm not sure where we stand on this one anymore. High levels of oxalic acid do not seem to be the problem that we once thought they were in tortoises, at least in some cases.

I mistakenly fed small quantities of this mixed in with other food to my tortoises years ago, and it didn't appear to do any harm, but I stopped once I learned what it was.

Will @Kapidolo Farms ? Can you lay down some of your vast nutritional knowledge for us here?
Bummer, I have an abundance in my yard. From what I can see about oxalis, it is probably best to avoid it all together. Thanks for your input, Tom.
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
53,891
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
Bummer, I have an abundance in my yard. From what I can see about oxalis, it is probably best to avoid it all together. Thanks for your input, Tom.
I have a lot of it at my place too. I'm waiting for a trusted knowledgable voice to tell me they think its okay to feed. Until then, I skip it.
 

ZenHerper

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 27, 2020
Messages
1,299
Location (City and/or State)
New Jersey
In addition to having 10x the amount of oxalic acid than, say, spinach...oxalis contains a potassium salt that is toxic in a number of ways, including to the kidneys:


Though small dosages may be medicinal, dehydrated animals (read: those "traditionally" kept) are probably at high risk for being negatively affected; exposure/ingestion effects are cumulative.
 

RosemaryDW

Well-Known Member
Tortoise Club
5 Year Member
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Feb 17, 2016
Messages
3,824
Location (City and/or State)
Newport Coast, CA
Sorry for the double post!
? Can you lanyay down some of your vast nutritional knowledge for us here?
Having just burrowed through a couple of his threads mentioning oxalates in general and occasionally oxalis in particular I’m pretty sure he would say it’s fine as part of a varied diet; he allows some types to graze on it. Would he intentionally feed a ton of it, probably not. Perhaps not to babies either.

My sense of oxalis is that we are overly fearful of it, given (likely outdated) research about oxalates. Perhaps this is because it is a common plant and comes up for discussion so often, more than nearly any other yard plant. There are other plants with oxalates that some point out as “bad” but I think this is the one that gets the worst rap.

My Russian has a varied diet and is in good health, I wouldn’t worry at all if she ate some if when she was out and about. That said, she has never shown any interest in it; I pull it from our yard only because it’s invasive. If she was being hand fed I probably would throw in the occasional leaf; I think it’s important to expose them to as many food types as we can.

Of course there is never any need to feed a plant you aren’t comfortable with; there are plenty of other choices to us here in Orange County. You’ve got an H Mart, a 99 Ranch Market, and plenty of Mexican grocers around if you want to branch out a bit.
 

yaycolin

Member
Joined
Mar 27, 2020
Messages
82
Location (City and/or State)
Huntington Beach, CA
Sorry for the double post!

Having just burrowed through a couple of his threads mentioning oxalates in general and occasionally oxalis in particular I’m pretty sure he would say it’s fine as part of a varied diet; he allows some types to graze on it. Would he intentionally feed a ton of it, probably not. Perhaps not to babies either.

My sense of oxalis is that we are overly fearful of it, given (likely outdated) research about oxalates. Perhaps this is because it is a common plant and comes up for discussion so often, more than nearly any other yard plant. There are other plants with oxalates that some point out as “bad” but I think this is the one that gets the worst rap.

My Russian has a varied diet and is in good health, I wouldn’t worry at all if she ate some if when she was out and about. That said, she has never shown any interest in it; I pull it from our yard only because it’s invasive. If she was being hand fed I probably would throw in the occasional leaf; I think it’s important to expose them to as many food types as we can.

Of course there is never any need to feed a plant you aren’t comfortable with; there are plenty of other choices to us here in Orange County. You’ve got an H Mart, a 99 Ranch Market, and plenty of Mexican grocers around if you want to branch out a bit.
Thanks for the info! I am trying to feed more fresh weeds, but unfortunately only bad weeds grow in my small yard. I am thinking about trying to grow some from seeds in pots.
 

yaycolin

Member
Joined
Mar 27, 2020
Messages
82
Location (City and/or State)
Huntington Beach, CA
Also, what's up with the purple dandelions? Do they just have higher nitrogen content? Or are they a completely different weed all together?
 

RosemaryDW

Well-Known Member
Tortoise Club
5 Year Member
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Feb 17, 2016
Messages
3,824
Location (City and/or State)
Newport Coast, CA
What about this one? Does anyone know what it is?
I’m afraid it’s horseweed. Not poisonous but inedible and grows into a huge, hideous weed.

I know some of us say WEEDS WEEDS WEEDS all the time but not everyone has the ability/space to grow them, even though they seem as if they should be so easy. Plus they don’t grow year around, given how dry it is here.

You have access to tons of foods other people couldn’t dream of in grocery stores near you; you can provide a great variety of healthy foods. Either in place of weeds or until you learn how to identify and grow things yourself.

If you really want to try a weed, maybe try sow thistles, they grow quite easily although you’d have to water them as it gets warmer. You should be able to find some seed heads somewhere near you—it doesn’t matter how nasty a thistle looks, the seeds will be fine. If not you can pay to buy them. Seems crazy to me but since some people eat this plant, someone sells it. This is not quite sow thistle but it’s a very close relative and relatively cheap: https://www.etsy.com/listing/726374707/prickly-wild-lettuce-seeds-lactuca?ref=shop_home_recs_1
 

RosemaryDW

Well-Known Member
Tortoise Club
5 Year Member
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Feb 17, 2016
Messages
3,824
Location (City and/or State)
Newport Coast, CA
Also, what's up with the purple dandelions? Do they just have higher nitrogen content? Or are they a completely different weed all together?
They are the more or less the same. Those dandelions are more properly called chicories. They are grown as food elsewhere and like any vegetable, different strains have been developed. Just like some grocery store lettuces have some red or purple to them.

Take a look at some big sow thistles once you start to recognize them. You’ll notice some of them have a lot of purple to the stem as well, while others are very green.

All these plants are closely related and edible for humans and tortoises: “true” dandelion; chicories; sow thistles; wild lettuce; hawksbeard; hawkbit; cats ear. Leaves that are serrated; yellow flowers with many small petals. All good tortoise food, just hard to differentiate at first.

474541F9-05FB-4785-94FA-1CDC9BD30B51.jpeg
 

yaycolin

Member
Joined
Mar 27, 2020
Messages
82
Location (City and/or State)
Huntington Beach, CA
They are the more or less the same. Those dandelions are more properly called chicories. They are grown as food elsewhere and like any vegetable, different strains have been developed. Just like some grocery store lettuces have some red or purple to them.

Take a look at some big sow thistles once you start to recognize them. You’ll notice some of them have a lot of purple to the stem as well, while others are very green.

All these plants are closely related and edible for humans and tortoises: “true” dandelion; chicories; sow thistles; wild lettuce; hawksbeard; hawkbit; cats ear. Leaves that are serrated; yellow flowers with many small petals. All good tortoise food, just hard to differentiate at first.

View attachment 323675
Thank you for all of the information. I think I actually found some thistle earlier. It has a lot of purple, but has grown fairly tall and has little thorns on the leaves. I guess I am so bad at identifying weeds because I had never had a need to what each weed is. There are only 3 weeds growing in my yard. The first I mentioned in the original post, and the other two are pictures below. Not sure what they are though.

1619142946754.jpeg

1619143006191.jpeg
 

RosemaryDW

Well-Known Member
Tortoise Club
5 Year Member
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Feb 17, 2016
Messages
3,824
Location (City and/or State)
Newport Coast, CA
Why would anyone have a need to identify weeds? It’s reserved for weird tortoise people. :)

That sounds like a regular prickly sow thistle, close but not quite the same as the smooth. They can get crazy tall, especially after rain or with regular water. Those prickles absolutely won’t bother your tortoise; go for it. Their jaws are crazy tough. The stems have great fiber.

I’d need to see flowers but I think the first is Scarlet Pimpernel. In our area the flowers are more an orange salmon that red. Problematic for cattle but to me that’s not necessarily a reason to to avoid it. That said, my Russian has never taken a bite of it.

The second, hmm. A wild geranium maybe. Do you have one with an open flower? And can you get a good picture of this bit, in red? It would be safe if it was a geranium. (Wild geraniums look nothing like you’d think.) My tortoise doesn’t care for them but plenty do.

6E8CABB2-B492-4EFD-A12E-21DC24E83F46.jpeg


Again, it’s totally normal not to have access to a ton of weeds; I sure don’t, other than a few weeks in spring and I know what I’m looking at/for!
 
Last edited:

yaycolin

Member
Joined
Mar 27, 2020
Messages
82
Location (City and/or State)
Huntington Beach, CA
Why would anyone have a need to identify weeds? It’s reserved for weird tortoise people. :)

That sounds like a regular prickly sow thistle, close but not quite the same as the smooth. They can get crazy tall, especially after rain or with regular water. Those prickles absolutely won’t bother your tortoise; go for it. Their jaws are crazy tough. The stems have great fiber.

I’d need to see flowers but I think the first is Scarlet Pimpernel. In our area the flowers are more an orange salmon that red. Problematic for cattle but to me that’s not necessarily a reason to to avoid it. That said, my Russian has never taken a bite of it.

The second, hmm. A wild geranium maybe. Do you have one with an open flower? And can you get a good picture of this bit, in red? It would be safe if it was a geranium. (Wild geraniums look nothing like you’d think.) My tortoise doesn’t care for them but plenty do.

View attachment 323686


Again, it’s totally normal not to have access to a ton of weeds; I sure don’t, other than a few weeks in spring and I know what I’m looking at/for!
I will get some better pictures in a few days once the flowers open up. I think your answers seem pretty accurate though.
 

Tom

The Dog Trainer
10 Year Member!
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Jan 9, 2010
Messages
53,891
Location (City and/or State)
Southern California
Thank you for all of the information. I think I actually found some thistle earlier. It has a lot of purple, but has grown fairly tall and has little thorns on the leaves. I guess I am so bad at identifying weeds because I had never had a need to what each weed is. There are only 3 weeds growing in my yard. The first I mentioned in the original post, and the other two are pictures below. Not sure what they are though.

View attachment 323682

View attachment 323683
Take samples of the whole plant to a local nursery. There is almost always a local "plant nerd" that can ID them for you. I have several of them here in SCV.
 

Kapidolo Farms

Well-Known Member
Tortoise Club
5 Year Member
Platinum Tortoise Club
Joined
Nov 7, 2012
Messages
5,080
Location (City and/or State)
South of Southern California, but not Mexico
Where it would occur in my yard that has tortoises, it does not, because the tortoises eat it all (Manouria). Ground squirrels dig up and eat the little bulbs, rabbits eat the above ground green parts and flowers in abundance, fresh and later dead and dry. The total portion for the tortoises is small, they get several pounds of grocery greens a day, and eat the oxalis soon after it sprouts, so the plants are still very small when consumed.

As far as the calcium in it, I do not know if it is more than what the oxalate load is or less. Opuntia for example has an oxalate load, but more calcium than the oxalates use, so it's net positive for calcium. I don't know this relationship for the oxalis.

I would not intentionally feed it to neonates, I would not worry about it for full grown tortoises that can graze it from within their outdoor pen. Like my Manouria, they eat it before it amounts to much.

That would be oxalis. For years that has been known as a "do not feed" due to a high oxalic acid content, but I'm not sure where we stand on this one anymore. High levels of oxalic acid do not seem to be the problem that we once thought they were in tortoises, at least in some cases.

I mistakenly fed small quantities of this mixed in with other food to my tortoises years ago, and it didn't appear to do any harm, but I stopped once I learned what it was.

Will @Kapidolo Farms ? Can you lay down some of your vast nutritional knowledge for us here?
 
  • Like
Reactions: Tom
TortoiseSupply.com

New Posts

Top