Wood Sorrel

wood_sorrel,Oxalis_acetosella
By Schnobby (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Oxalis acetosella-Wood Sorrel

Family: Oxalidaceae

Other names: Wood Sour, Sour Trefoil, Stickwort, Fairy Bells, Hallelujah, Cuckowes Meat, Three-leaved Grass, Surelle, Stubwort

Habitat: Europe, including Britain, from Iceland south and east to Spain, N. and C. Asia to Japan. Moist woods, moorland and on shady rocks.

hazardsmallThe 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. The antidote to poisoning by any of the species of Oxalis, or by oxalic acid or potassium binoxalate, is a mixture of chalk with water.

Wood Sorrel has been used throughout the ages as a medicinal herb valued for it’s anodyne, anti-scorbutic, astringent, diuretic, emmenagogue, expectorant, febrifuge, irritant and stomachic. A decoction is used in the treatment of fevers, both to quench the thirst and allay the fever. It has been used for hemorrhages, gonorrhea  chronic catarrh, urinary affections, and in scurvy. Sorrel Leaves have a crisp citrus flavour and contain high levels of Vit C. Externally, the leaves are crushed and applied locally to dispel boils and abscesses, they also have an astringent affect on wounds. When used internally, some caution is advised due to the oxalic acid content of the leaves, the plant is contra-indicated for people suffering from gastritis or a calculus condition. The antidote to poisoning by any of the species of Oxalis, or by oxalic acid or potassium binoxalate, is a mixture of chalk with water.

wood_sorrel,Oxalis_acetosella
By Schnobby (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Description of Wood Sorrel:

Oxalis acetosella; Wood Sorrel is a PERENNIAL growing to 0.1 m (0ft 4in) by 0.3 m (1ft) at a fast rate.
It is hardy to zone 3 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from Apr to May. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, flies. The plant is self-fertile.

Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in full shade (deep woodland) semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

violet_wood_sorrel
By Dcrjsr (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Sorrel Pictures

Prefers moist shady conditions and a humus rich soil in shade or dappled sunlight. Dislikes very heavy and wet soils. Plants are hardy to about -25°c. A dainty woodland carpeter growing well in a woodland or wild garden. When well sited the plants can run aggressively and also self-sow. 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.

Propagation of Wood Sorrel:

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.

Culinary uses of Wood Sorrel:

Edible Parts: Flowers,  Leaves.
Edible Uses: Curdling agent.

Leaves – raw or cooked. A delicious lemony flavour, the leaves make a refreshing, thirst-quenching munch and are also added to salads, soups, sauces etc. Was historically used as a pot herb in the times of Henry the eight but it’s use discountined with the introduction of french sorrel. This leaf should be used in moderation, see the notes above on toxicity. Flowers – raw. A decorative addition to salads. The dried plant can be used as a curdling agent for plant milks.

Oxalis_acetosella,Wood _sorrelMedicinal uses of Wood Sorrel:

Anodyne,  Antiscorbutic,  Astringent,  Diuretic,  Emmenagogue,  Expectorant,  Febrifuge,  Irritant,  Stomachic.

Part Used: Whole plant and leaf

The fresh or dried leaves of Wood Sorrel are anodyne, antiscorbutic, astringent, diuretic, emmenagogue, expectorant, febrifuge, irritant and stomachic. A decoction is used in the treatment of fevers, both to quench the thirst and allay the fever. Use in hemorrhages, gonorrhoea, chronic catarrh, urinary affections, and in scurvy,Externally, the leaves are crushed and applied locally to dispel boils and abscesses, they also have an astringent affect on wounds. When used internally, some caution is advised due to the oxalic acid content of the leaves, the plant is contra-indicated for people suffering from gastritis or a calculus condition. The antidote to poisoning by any of the species of Oxalis, or by oxalic acid or potassium binoxalate, is a mixture of chalk with water.

Other uses of Wood Sorrel:

Cleanser.

The juice of the leaves removes iron mould stains from linen. Plants can be grown as a ground cover in woodland or under the shade of shrubs. They should be spaced about 45cm apart each way.

The-Wood-Sorel-Fairy
Esoteric uses of Wood Sorrel:

None known but if you use this herb for any purpose please let us know!

The Chemistry:

The acidity is due to the presence of oxalic acid in combination with potassium forming acid potassium oxalate, sometimes called potassium binoxalate (HKC2O4).

High levels of Vit C

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