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Oxalis acetosella - L.

Common Name Wood Sorrel
Family Oxalidaceae
USDA hardiness 3-7
Known Hazards The leaves contain oxalic acid, which gives them their sharp flavour. Perfectly all right in small quantities, the leaves should not be eaten in large amounts since oxalic acid can bind up the body's supply of calcium leading to nutritional deficiency. The quantity of oxalic acid will be reduced if the leaves are cooked. People with a tendency to rheumatism, arthritis, gout, kidney stones or hyperacidity should take especial caution if including this plant in their diet since it can aggravate their condition[238].
Habitats Moist woods, moorland and on shady rocks[187].
Range Europe, including Britain, from Iceland south and east to Spain, N. and C. Asia to Japan.
Edibility Rating    (3 of 5)
Other Uses    (0 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Full shade Semi-shade Full sun
Oxalis acetosella Wood Sorrel


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Oxalis acetosella Wood Sorrel
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Summary


Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Oxalis acetosella is a PERENNIAL growing to 0.1 m (0ft 4in) by 0.3 m (1ft) at a fast rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 3 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from April to May. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Bees, flies, cleistogamy. The plant is self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in full shade (deep woodland) semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map

Synonyms

Habitats

Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade; Shady Edge; not Deep Shade; Ground Cover;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Flowers  Leaves
Edible Uses: Curdling agent

Leaves - raw or cooked[2, 7, 12, 37]. A delicious lemony flavour, the leaves make a refreshing, thirst-quenching munch and are also added to salads, soups, sauces etc[183]. This leaf should be used in moderation[4, 5, 9, 76], see the notes above on toxicity. Flowers - raw. A decorative addition to salads[K]. The dried plant can be used as a curdling agent for plant milks[66].

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Anodyne  Antiscorbutic  Astringent  Diuretic  Emmenagogue  Expectorant  Febrifuge  Irritant  
Stomachic

The fresh or dried leaves are anodyne, antiscorbutic, astringent, diuretic, emmenagogue, expectorant, febrifuge, irritant and stomachic[4, 7, 9, 21]. A decoction is used in the treatment of fevers, both to quench the thirst and allay the fever[4]. Externally, the leaves are crushed and applied locally to dispel boils and abscesses, they also have an astringent affect on wounds[7]. When used internally, some caution is advised due to the oxalic acid content of the leaves[4], the plant is contra-indicated for people suffering from gastritis or a calculus condition[7].

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Other Uses

Cleanser

The juice of the leaves removes iron mould stains from linen[6, 66, 115]. Plants can be grown as a ground cover in woodland or under the shade of shrubs[208]. They should be spaced about 45cm apart each way[208].

Special Uses

Ground cover

Cultivation details

Prefers moist shady conditions and a humus rich soil in shade or dappled sunlight[4, 9, 13, 27, 37, 200]. Dislikes very heavy and wet soils[17]. Plants are hardy to about -25°c[187]. A dainty woodland carpeter growing well in a woodland or wild garden[28, 200]. When well sited the plants can run aggressively and also self-sow[208]. The plant flowers in early spring, but does not produce much fertile seed at this time. Most of the fertile seed is produced from cleistogamous flowers during the summer[17].

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Plants For A Future have a number of books available in paperback and digital form. Book titles include Edible Plants, Edible Perennials, Edible Trees, and Woodland Gardening. Our new book to be released soon is Edible Shrubs.

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Propagation

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and plant them out in late spring or early summer. Division in spring. Very easy, larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found that it is better to pot up the smaller divisions and grow them on in light shade in a cold frame until they are well established before planting them out in late spring or early summer.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Oxalis adenophyllaSauer KleePerennial0.2 4-8  LMHSNM00 
Oxalis articulataPink SorrelPerennial0.2 7-10  LMNM30 
Oxalis barrelieriBarrelier's woodsorrelPerennial0.0 0-0  LMNDM20 
Oxalis bifida Bulb0.3 8-11  LMNDM20 
Oxalis corniculataYellow Sorrel, Creeping woodsorrelAnnual/Perennial0.1 4-8  LMHNDM220
Oxalis corymbosaLilac Oxalis, Pink woodsorrelPerennial0.2 7-10  LMHNDM20 
Oxalis deppeiIron Cross PlantBulb0.3 7-10  LMNM40 
Oxalis enneaphyllaScurvy GrassPerennial0.1 5-9  LMNDM20 
Oxalis europaea Annual/Perennial0.4 -  LMNDM20 
Oxalis exilisLeast Yellow Sorrel, Shady woodsorrelAnnual/Perennial0.1 4-8  LMHNDM22 
Oxalis frutescensShrubby woodsorrelPerennial0.0 0-0  LMNDM20 
Oxalis lasiandra Perennial0.3 8-11  LMSNM00 
Oxalis magellanica Perennial0.0 5-9  LMSNDM20 
Oxalis montanaMountain Wood SorrelPerennial0.1 0-0  LMHSM201
Oxalis oreganaRedwood SorrelPerennial0.2 6-9  LMHFSNM313
Oxalis pes-capraeBermuda ButtercupPerennial0.2 8-11  LMNDM20 
Oxalis strictaYellow Wood Sorrel, Common yellow oxalis, Common Yellow Wood Sorrel, OxalisAnnual0.3 0-0 FLMNDM210
Oxalis tetraphylla Perennial0.1 7-10  LMNDM30 
Oxalis triangularisOxalisPerennial0.2 10-11 MLMSNDM30 
Oxalis tuberosaOcaPerennial0.5 6-9  LMNM50 
Oxalis violaceaViolet Wood SorrelBulb0.3 4-8  LMHSNDM31 

 

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Readers comment

Carol Wilson   Fri Sep 11 2009

Oxalis corniculata I own a small house in Croatia with a small garden. In the hot weather the only little plants that seem to survive are oxalis corniculata. Do you know how/where I could obtain seeds for this plant so that I could use it as ground cover?

david   Sat Sep 12 2009

www.b-and-t-world-seeds.com/ - supply tubers of this plant, I don't know if they will ship to Croatia

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