There are a few plants that I grew up eating, only finding out later in life that they are also medicinal. This one is especially good for the Spring time, as it’s often mistaken for clover (I don’t really know how as the leaves and flowers appear completely different to me) and is also commonly referred to as Florida’s Shamrock. This plant also flowers around Easter every year, though here in Central Florida it’s almost always flowering.
There are over 850 species in the family Oxalidaceae. This family consists of five genera of herbaceous plants, small shrubs, and trees, with the great majority of the species being in the genus Oxalis (wood sorrels). Members of this family typically have divided leaves, the leaflets showing "sleep movements", spreading open in light and closing in darkness. There are at least seven species in Florida, all edible, (three of them rare) and they have either pink or yellow blossoms. The seven more common species found in Florida are O. articulata, corniculata, debilis, latifolia, macrantha, triangularis and violacea. The rare ones are O. articulata, triangularis, and violacea, I recommend that you avoid wildcrafting and/or foraging those as the other four are readily available and interchangeably used. All parts are edible including the root bulb, which is succulent and sweet. Above ground it tastes quite lemony and can be used to make a drink similar to lemonade.
Check out this video from Eat The Weeds
Check out a companion video all about Oxalis!
Common Names- There are a number of species used world wide, some of the more commonly used common names for these species include: Common Yellow Woodsorrel, Creeping Lady’s Sorrel, Creeping Oxalis, Creeping Wood Sorrel, Fairy Bells, Indian Penny Wood, Indian Sorrel, Procumbent Yellow Sorrel, Shamrock, Sleeping Beauty, Sour Grass, Soursob, Tufted Yellow Wood Sorrel, Woodsorrel, Wood Sorrel
Scientific Name- Oxalis spp. There are over 500 species. Some of the more commonly used species include: O. acetosella, articulata, bushii, corniculata (previously known as stricta), debilis (previously known as corymbosa), latifolia, macrantha, pes-caprae, purpurea, regnellii, triangularis, tuberosa, and violacea.
Edibility- All parts are edible including the root bulb, which is succulent and sweet. The delicate leaves of this weed have a sour, citrus-like taste and is ideal for salads and for use as a garnish. However it wilts quickly and should be used soon after picking. The flowers are also edible. I am also partial to adding the leaves and flowers to my omelets, soups, and using it as a pot herb. Wood sorrel in particular should not be eaten in large quantities (we’re talking multiple pounds in one sitting...quite hard to accomplish, but possible) because of its high oxalic acid content, which can be poisonous in large amounts and has been linked to kidney stones. However, the quantity of oxalic acid will be reduced if the leaves are cooked. The dried plant can be used as a curdling agent for plant milks
Nutrition Information- The entire plant is edible and is rich source of Vitamin C, Vitamin A, and Potassium. The important phytochemical constituents isolated from the plant are flavonoids, tannins, phytosterols, phenol, glycosides, fatty acids, galacto-glycero lipid and volatile oils.
Summary of Actions- Anodyne, Antiscorbutic, Astringent, Diuretic, Emmenagogue, Expectorant, Febrifuge, Irritant, Refrigerant, Stomachic, Anti-inflammatory, Anxiolytic, Anticonvulsant, Antifungal, Antiulcer, Antinociceptive, Anticancer, Antidiabetic, Hepatoprotective, Hypolipidemic, Abortifacient, and Antimicrobial.
Energetics and Flavors- Sour, Tart, Cold, Moistening
Parts Used- Leaves, Flowers, Seeds, Immature Green Seed Pods, and Tubers
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)- Known as Cu Jiang Cao, Oxalis works on the Stomach, Bladder, and Lung Meridians. It clears Heat and supports Stomach Yin, which makes it useful for fevers, thirst, sore throat, cold sores, headache, and prevents scurvy. It also clears damp heat, which means it is good for sinusitis, congestion, headaches, diarrhea, dysentery, jaundice, kidney stones, gravel, and herpes. Oxalis also stops bleeding.
Ayurveda- Called Changeri in Ayurvedic Traditions, Oxalis is used for treating stomach and liver problems including abdominal tumors, piles, leprosy, and dysentery. It balances vata and kapha doshas. It’s sour in taste, and hot in potency, which aggravates pitta dosha.
Domestic and Other Traditional Uses- Red to brown, orange, and yellow dyes can be obtained from this plant. In Canada, it’s used as a weed for glasshouses. The juice of the leaves removes iron mould stains from linen
High in Vitamin C- Because of it’s high levels of Vitamin C, Oxalis is a traditional treatment for Scurvy, a disease that results from Vitamin C deficiency.
Fevers & Flu- It's cooling action appears to help reduce the discomfort of fevers when taken in a tea made at 1 ounce of herb to 1 pint of water.
Cardiovascular System- Useful as a general Cardio-tonic and blood cleanser.
Skin & Wound Care- Externally, the leaves are crushed and applied locally to dispel boils and abscesses, they also have an astringent affect on wounds. The leaves also provide some benefits when made into an ointment for cuts, scrapes, rashes, and skin infections.
Digestive Issues- strengthen a weak stomach, produce an appetite, check vomiting, and remove obstructions of the viscera.
Mouth Sores & Ulcers- Taken as a gargle it also seems to have some effect on mouth sores or ulcers.
Cautions, Contraindications, and Warnings- This plant is high in Oxalic Acid, those prone to kidney stones, and those afflicted with gout, rheumatism, and hyperacidity may want to avoid using this herb medicinally.
Do Not Use With Metals- Do not cook sorrel in cast iron or aluminum cookware. The oxalic acid in the plant reacts with the metals to produce a metallic flavor. When using aluminum, the acids in sorrel may allow potentially toxic quantities of aluminum ions to leak from the cookware.
I only included a basic introduction to this amazing, often overlooked, plant. If you have any questions or comments please leave them below. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram or updates on my adventures in Nature. Find me on YouTube and check out my videos! I also have a few things up on Teespring, check it out! Also, if you like what I do and what to see more, Become a Patron!
Acetosella, Wood Sorrel: Medicine Traditions: https://www.medicinetraditions.com/acetosella-wood-sorrel.html
Changeri (Oxalis corniculata): Planet Ayurveda: https://www.planetayurveda.com/library/changeri-oxalis-corniculata/
Edible Weeds that are Safe to Eat and How to Use Them: ABC Health & Wellbeing: https://www.abc.net.au/news/health/2016-05-12/edible-weeds-and-how-you-can-use-them/7406004
Florida’s Native Shamrocks: Florida Native Plant Society: http://fnpsblog.blogspot.com/2012/03/oxalis-corniculata-floridas-lucky.html
Flower Friday- Creeping Woodsorrel: Florida Wildflower Foundation: https://flawildflowers.org/flower-friday-oxalis-corniculata/
Garden Sorrel (Cu Jiang Cao): White Rabbit Institute of Healing: https://www.whiterabbitinstituteofhealing.com/herbs/garden-sorrel/
Important Medicinal Facts About Changeri (Oxalis corniculata): Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Scinces: http://ccras.nic.in/content/important-medicinal-facts-about-changeri-oxalis-corniculata-l
Medicinal Uses of Oxalis (Wood Sorrel): Gardens Ablaze: http://www.gardensablaze.com/HerbOxalisMed.htm
Oxalis: Atlas of Florida Plants: https://florida.plantatlas.usf.edu/Genus.aspx?id=876
Oxalis acetosella: Plants for a Future: https://pfaf.org/user/plant.aspx?latinname=Oxalis+acetosella
Oxalis corniculata: Always Ayurveda: https://www.alwaysayurveda.com/oxalis-corniculata/
Oxalis corniculata: Florida Native Plant Society: https://www.fnps.org/plants/plant/oxalis-corniculata
Oxalis corniculata: Plants for a Future: https://pfaf.org/user/plant.aspx?LatinName=Oxalis+corniculata
Oxalis corniculata: Useful Tropical Plants: http://tropical.theferns.info/viewtropical.php?id=Oxalis+corniculata
Oxalis- How to Drown Your Sorrels: Eat The Weeds: http://www.eattheweeds.com/oxalis-how-to-drown-your-sorrels/
Oxalis or Wood Sorrel: Julia’s Edible Weeds: http://www.juliasedibleweeds.com/general/oxalis-wood-sorrel/
Oxalis stricta: Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center: https://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=OXST
Sorrel, Wood: A Modern Herbal: https://botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/s/sorwoo68.html
Wood Sorrel: Natural Medicinal Herbs: http://www.naturalmedicinalherbs.net/herbs/o/oxalis-acetosella=wood-sorrel.php
Wood Sorrel: WebMD: https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-228/wood-sorrel
Wood Sorrel: Wild Edible: https://www.wildedible.com/wild-food-guide/wood-sorrel
Wood Sorrel: Wild Food UK: https://www.wildfooduk.com/edible-wild-plants/wood-sorrel/
Wood Sorrel- A Nutritious Edible Weed: Dengarden: https://dengarden.com/gardening/oxalis
Wood Sorrel (Cu Jiang Cao): White Rabbit Institute of Healing: https://www.whiterabbitinstituteofhealing.com/herbs/wood-sorrel/
Wood Sorrel- Oxalis stricta: Edible Wild Food: https://www.ediblewildfood.com/wood-sorrel.aspx
Yellow Sorrel: Natural Medicinal Herbs: http://www.naturalmedicinalherbs.net/herbs/o/oxalis-corniculata=yellow-sorrel.php