What Is Wood Sorrel?

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Whether digging in your garden, mowing the lawn or taking a walk in the park, you have probably come across wood sorrel. Whether you yank it out with a curse, exclaim in its attractiveness or pucker your lips at its tart, lemony flavor depends on the species you encounter — however some immediate all three responses. Several of species of these plants, which comprise cloverlike clusters of delicious heart-shaped leaves, are widespread across the USA, while others confine themselves to warmer climates or so are treated as houseplants.


At its simplest level, wood sorrel (Oxalis spp.) Is a large genus of annual and perennial plants in the Oxalidaceae family. The names of this family and genus are derived from the Greek word for sour, “oxys.” Plants in this family include varying amounts of oxalic acid in their foliage, which gives them a tart flavor, although the plants can be toxic if consumed in massive quantities.

Weedy Wood Sorrels

Yellow wood sorrel (O. stricta) and creeping wood sorrel (O. corniculata) would be the most common wood sorrels located in lawns and gardens and are widely considered weeds. The plants are perennial down to U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 4 and 3 respectively, and they plague gardeners across the USA with their capacity to spread and regenerate. Yellow wood sorrel has smooth, bright green leaves, grows about 8 inches tall and spreads through underground rhizomes. Creeping sorrel is lower to the ground, just approximately 4 inches tall with purplish-green, somewhat hairy leaves and spreads through stolons, which move along the surface of the ground putting down new roots. Both kinds have five-petaled yellow flowers. Control of both is mainly by hand digging and repeat pulling, though a long taproot makes this difficult. Glyphosate and broadleaf herbicides labeled for use on oxalis are successful, though you may need to apply them several times to eliminate the plants.

Ornamental Wood Sorrels

Numerous wood sorrel species have been considered wildflowers, featuring the exact same heart-shaped leaves as weedy varieties. They vary in size and color and supply attractive blooms in a variety of colors and sizes. These plants might be utilized as houseplants, in borders, or as ground covers. Redwood sorrel (O. oregano) is an indigenous species perennial in USDA zones 7 through 9 that rises up to 12 inches tall with pink, white or pink-purple flowers. Windowbox wood sorrel (O. rubra), perennial to zone 9 and utilized as a houseplant or yearly elsewhere, grows from a bulb, has showy pink flowers with darker veins and grows 6 to 12 inches tall. Purple wood sorrel (O. purpurpea) grows 4 to 6 inches tall with purple blossoms. Meanwhile, the “Alba” cultivar has white blossoms, while “Garnet” features purple blossoms and foliage. They are hardy in zones 9 and 10.

Wood Sorrels to View For

Although not officially considered invasive species, a few ornamental wood sorrel species have escaped cultivation in areas with mild climates to make themselves at home in waste areas — roadsides, woodlands, and other areas of abandoned soil. Maintain any plantings in check with deadheading flowers and digging up and disposing of plants that spread beyond their bounds, or control them before they set seed with a broadleaf herbicide specified to be used on oxalis. Bermuda buttercup (O. pes-caprae) is the 1 plant in the family, even although not commonly called wood sorrel, that should be avoided. Bermuda buttercup features large bright yellow blossoms an is hardy in zones 9 and 10. It spreads through wax and is difficult to eliminate once established.

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