Wood sorrel (Oxalis species)

Wood Sorrel plant with yellow, five-petaled flowersThere are over 800 species in the Oxalis family.  Wood sorrel (also known as Woodsorrels, Yellow Sorrels, or Pink Sorrels) resembles shamrock or four-leaf clover, with a bell-shaped pink, yellow, or white flower.  The plants can grow up to 15 inches tall.  The leaves are divided into 3-10 (most have 3) oval or heart-shaped leaves with leaf ends thicker than the base section, with all leaves on the plant being roughly equal in size and radiating from the end of the stem.  Typically three slightly folded, smooth or slightly hairy edged leaves occur in groups at the end of the plant’s reddish brown stalk.

Pink flowers on a Wood Sorrel plantThe white, pink, or yellow colored flowers (some with pink streaks or tinged with red near the throat of the flower) have five petals which are fused at the base and flare outward.  Red or purple flowers are possible but rare.  Each small (typically less than 3/4 inch across) flower has 10 stamens, thin fine lines toward the throat, and has little or no scent.  The fruit is a small, slightly hairy seed capsule containing several seeds.  In some species the flowers and leaves contract overnight or during rain.  The root system consists of a taproot with numerous branching secondary roots.

Where to Find: Wood sorrel is found in temperate zones worldwide, in lawns, edges of paths, under powerline clearances, open areas, and openings in sunny woods.

Edible Parts: Wood Sorrel plant growing in the wildThe entire plant is edible cooked (to leach the oxalic acid).  The edible tubers are somewhat similar to a small potato.  The leaves and flowers may be dried and seeped to make a tea.  Stems can be eaten but may be tough.  The plant has a sour taste.

Note: Eat only moderate amounts of this plant as it contains a fairly high concentration of oxalic acid that can be harmful to proper digestion and kidneys if ingested in high doses.

Other Uses: It is rich in vitamin C and can be used to treat scurvy, fevers, mouth sores, and sore throats.

Wood Sorrel, with heart shaped leaves, growing in the wild

Distinctive heart-shaped leaves of the Wood Sorrel plant

Wood Sorrel plant leaves and white flowers

Wood Sorrel yellow flowers surrouned by three-leafed leaves

Wood Sorrel plant

Wood Sorrel flowers may have colored streaks

Pink Wood Sorrel flowers wiht white streaks

Wood Sorrel growing in the wild

Color drawing of Wood Sorrel plant

Color drawing of Wood Sorrel plant illustrating the plants stem, leaves, root system, and flowers