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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  
Other Uses  
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating  
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Full shade Semi-shade Full sun


Oxalis acetosella Wood Sorrel

Oxalis acetosella Wood Sorrel
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 Apr to May. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, flies, self, 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.


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;  

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].
Other Uses

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].
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].
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
Found In
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 NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Oxalis adenophyllaSauer Klee00
Oxalis articulataPink Sorrel30
Oxalis barrelieriBarrelier's woodsorrel20
Oxalis bifida 20
Oxalis corniculataYellow Sorrel, Creeping woodsorrel22
Oxalis corymbosaLilac Oxalis, Pink woodsorrel20
Oxalis deppeiIron Cross Plant40
Oxalis enneaphyllaScurvy Grass20
Oxalis europaea 20
Oxalis exilisLeast Yellow Sorrel, Shady woodsorrel22
Oxalis frutescensShrubby woodsorrel20
Oxalis lasiandra 00
Oxalis magellanica 20
Oxalis montanaMountain Wood Sorrel20
Oxalis oreganaRedwood Sorrel31
Oxalis pes-capraeBermuda Buttercup20
Oxalis strictaYellow Wood Sorrel, Common yellow oxalis, Common Yellow Wood Sorrel, Oxalis21
Oxalis tetraphylla 30
Oxalis triangularisOxalis30
Oxalis tuberosaOca50
Oxalis violaceaViolet Wood Sorrel31
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Readers comment
Elizabeth H.
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?
Elizabeth H.
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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Subject : Oxalis acetosella  

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