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Common wood sorrel

Common wood sorrel

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Oxalidales
Family: Oxalidaceae
Genus: Oxalis
Species: O. acetosella
Binomial name
Oxalis acetosella


Common wood sorrel is a plant from the genus Oxalis, common in most of Europe and parts of Asia. It flowers for a few months during the spring, with small white flowers with pink streaks. Red or violet flowers also occur rarely. The binomial name is Oxalis acetosella, because of its sour taste.

The leaflets are made up by three heart-shaped leaves, folded through the middle. The stalk is red/brown, and during the night or when it rains both flowers and leaves contract.

Historically, people have extracted calcium oxalate, or "sal acetosella" from the plant, through boiling. It is slightly toxic, as oxalic acid is known to interfere with food digestion.

Another common wood sorrel is Oxalis montana, a North American species found from New England and Nova Scotia to Wisconsin and Manitoba. It is similar to the species described above, but the petals are noticeably notched.

The common wood sorrel is sometimes referred to as a shamrock (due to its three-leaf clover-like motif) and given as a gift on St. Patrick's Day.


  • Blanchan, Neltje (2005). Wild Flowers Worth Knowing. Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation. 
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Common_wood_sorrel". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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