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Wood Sorrel

Edible Edible Autumn Autumn Spring Spring Summer Summer Winter Winter

A wonderful find when walking through woodland at almost any time of year.

Hedgerow Type
Common Names Wood Sorrel, Fairy Bells, Wood Sour, Cuckoo's Meat
Scientific Name Oxalis acetosella
Season Start Jan
Season End Dec
Please note that each and every hedgerow item you come across may vary in appearance to these photos.

Leaves

Three heart shaped leaves with a perpendicular stem descending from the middle, a little like clover. The leaves ‘wilt’ or close at night or if conditions are harsh.

Flowers

Delicate little five petaled white flowers with pink or purple veining.

Stem

Thin, delicate and green to red, the tastiest part.

Habitat

Woodland floors and hedgerows and almost anywhere damp and shady that has been undisturbed for a long period of time.

Possible Confusion

Clover, pictured, but this is edible in small amounts and in no way has the citrus/apple peal taste of Wood Sorrel. Clover is plant of grassland and the mature leaves don’t have a heart shape.

There are many different members of the Oxalis family and several of them are called Wood Sorrel. All green leaved varieties are edible. This includes Pink-sorrel and similar species with pink flowers and larger leaves, as well as yellow flowered species that are fairly common in flower beds.
There is a small purple variety called Creeping Wood Sorrel which is common in many gardens growing between cracks and plant pots but it is sometimes mentioned as an hyper-accumulator of copper.

Taste

Sharp and sour something like apple peel and lemon, very pleasant when thirsty.

Frequency

Common in established woodland.

Collecting

The leaves, stem and flowers of this little plant are edible.
It contains oxalic acid so it should be consumed in moderation.

Medicinal Uses

Wood sorrel was used in the past for treating scurvy  due to its high vitamin C content. American Indians used related plants for many purposes like cramp, nausea, fever and soreness.

Other Facts

Sorrel comes from French where it means sour. A real thirst quencher when out walking in the woods or sprinkled in a salad.
All members of the Oxalis family contain oxalic acid and should not be eaten in large quantities but to put it in perspective, there is oxalic acid in chocolate, coffee, pulses and many other foods and they don’t come with a warning.

COMMENTS

10 comments for Wood Sorrel

  1. Donald Volz says:

    Do people usually eat the roots of wood sorrel? When I picked it for the first time the roots didn’t look that tasty. I washed and ate the leaves and the single stems raw on my salad. I am just starting to learn. So far I know clover, wood sorrel, and dandelions. Thanks

    1. Poppy Ives says:

      Hi Donald.
      No we leave the roots, we gently pick the leaves and stems as the roots are often quite shallow and will come up by mistake. Leave the roots in to grow another day 🙂

  2. Josh Waddilove says:

    Can’t seem to find it in Suffolk any ideas

    1. Poppy Ives says:

      Keep looking, it does grow there.

  3. Donata de Reus says:

    We tasted Wood-Sorrel this week and all thought it tasted like strawberries. We would never take the roots of plants, certainly not of a plant as rare as wood-sorrel!

  4. sarah says:

    Just found this beautiful little plant by the stream in south Devon. Thank you for your clear identification and information

  5. Louise Kavanagh says:

    Wood Sorrell appears to have seeded in my garden. I assumed that the Birds may have spread the seeds. I have Wild Strawberries in the same plot. Will the Wild Strawberries still come through or will I need to thin out the Wood Sorrell to give it a chance?

    1. Eric Biggane says:

      The Wood Sorrel will hinder the strawberries a bit but the two go together rather well.

  6. Shikha shrivastav says:

    Now i will try to taste it. In my pots it appeared naturally. It has beautiful yellow flower plant itself is very delicate with bright green leaves.

  7. Claire says:

    I’ve just found that I have wood sorrel in my garden. Certainly handy to know when I’m just starting to learn more about foraging

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