Oxalis acetosella

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 Oxalis acetosella subsp. var.  Common wood sorrel
Oxalis acetosella LC0190.jpg
Habit: herbaceous
Height: to
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Common Wood-sorrel is a plant from the genus Oxalis, common in most of Europe and parts of Asia. The binomial name is Oxalis acetosella, because of its sour taste. In much of its range it is the only member of its genus and hence simply known as "the" wood-sorrel.

The plant has heart-shaped leaves, folded through the middle, that occur in groups of three atop a reddish brown stalk. It flowers for a few months during the spring, with small white flowers with pink streaks. Red or violet flowers also occur rarely.During the night or when it rains both flowers and leaves contract.

The leaves are edible, but contain oxalic acid which is slightly toxic as it interferes with food digestion.

The "Common wood sorrel" of North America is Oxalis montana, found from New England and Nova Scotia to Wisconsin and Manitoba and more unambiguously known as Mountain Wood-sorrel. It is similar to the species described above, but the petals are noticeably notched. It is called sours in the Northeast US.

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.

Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture

Oxalis acetosella, Linn. Scarcely half as large in its various dimensions, otherwise very similar. E. U.S. and Eu.—Often taken for the shamrock, lake the preceding, used sparingly in rockeries.

The above text is from the Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture. It may be out of date, but still contains valuable and interesting information which can be incorporated into the remainder of the article. Click on "Collapse" in the header to hide this text.



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