As kids we used to call this plant lemon grass because of its slightly sour lemony taste. Several species of this clover-like plant grow on
lawns, fields, roadsides, and woods. The leaves have three heart-shaped leaflets with a central crease on each leaflet. The flowers
have five petals and are yellow, pink, white, or purple. The two angles on the seed pod stalks in the plant pictured above are
characteristic of the Yellow Wood Sorrel (Oxalis stricta).
Wood Sorrel (at least some species) is high in vitamin C and has been used to treat scurvy. Followers of the Doctrine of Signatures
used Wood Sorrel to treat ailments of the heart because of the heart-shaped leaflets. The Yellow Wood-Sorrel (Oxalis stricta) has been
used as a poultice for inflammation and wounds.
|Wood Sorrel (Oxalis sp.)
|THE METROPOLITAN NATURALIST
|The sour leaves of Oxalis can be eaten are a pleasantly sour trail nibble. The leaves can also be added to salads to add flavor. A
lemonade-like drink can be made by steeping the leaves in hot water, then chilling before serving. W. T. FERNIE, M.D. reports that "on
account of its grateful acidity, a conserve was ordered by the London College to be made from the leaves and petals of Wood Sorrel, with
sugar and orange peel, and it was called _Conserva lujuoeIt".
It is not a good idea to eat large quantities of Oxalis because the high concentration of Oxalic Acid, which gives this plant its characteristic
sour taste, is poisonous in large amounts. Calcium oxalate, the calcium salt formed when oxalic acid combines with calcium, is the most
common form of kidney stone. Eating large amounts of Wood Sorrel can irrritate the gut and kidneys and might lead to kidney stones.
The leaflets close at night by folding along the crease.