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Wood Sorrel (Oxalis acetosella)

Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Wood Sorrel
Oxalis acetosella

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].

  • Medicinal Use

    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].

  • Edible Use

    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].

  • Cautionary Notes

    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].

Cultivation & Habitat

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.
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].
Europe, including Britain, from Iceland south and east to Spain, N. and C. Asia to Japan.

Become ungovernable, break the chains of the matrix; grow and forage your own food and medicine.

*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] [000], see bibliography.