Wood Sorrel (Oxalis spp) Identification

Wood Sorrel / Summer / Autumn / Winter / Edible

How to Identify Wood Sorrel

Botanical Name

Oxalis spp



Known Hazards

This plant contains Oxalic acid, similar to rhubarb, giving it its’ sour taste, if you ingest too much of this acid you can upset your stomach. Saying that you would have to eat a serious amount of wood sorrel to get to this point. To be avoided by anyone with kidney disease, kidney stones, rheumatoid arthritis, or gout.

Could be confused with

Clover, the leaves are a little like those found on a clover, the main difference being that a clover leaf sits flat whereas a sorrel leaf has a distinct fold down the center of the leaf, making each leaf almost look like those of a butterfly.

Range and Distribution

Uk, Most of Europe (specifically Northern), Northern America, and most of Asia.


Damp Woodlands

Wood Sorrel Foraging Video

Physical Characteristics

This common perennial can grow in large patches connected by subterranean rhizomes, with the ability to produce by seed and by rhizome.


There are no stems, rather clumps on leaves growing together from 5-10cms in length. Each leaf collection is made up of three heart-shaped leaflets, each leaf has a fold-down the center which changes, opening, and closing dependent on the amount of light available.


This plant amazingly has two types of flower, its first set of flowers from deep purple to white with distinct purple-white veins, are incredibly attractive, opening up and inviting many bumblebees, the second set of flowers that appear later in the year are called cleistogamous flower, these are very small, remaining fully closed and will self-pollinate.

Edible Use

   Leaves: Edible salads, sauces, smoothies, juiced, cakes, icing
   Flower: All of the above


It’s a diuretic and has antiscorbutic properties as well as having a great cooling ability. It’s been used to calm stomach upsets.

Identification is key!

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