Wood sorrel: Plant profile
Wood Sorrel, European Wood Sorrel, Fairy Bells, Wood Sour, Cuckoo’s Meat, Laverock, Alleluia, Shamrock, Seamsóg
Oxalidaceae (Wood sorrel)
Europe. Widespread all over Ireland and the UK, except the Fens in eastern England.
Where to find Wood Sorrel
Woodland and shady hedgerows.
When to find Wood Sorrel
Leaves early spring to mid-autumn.
How to identify Wood Sorrel
Wood Sorrel is a low-growing perennial. The leaves are trifoliate with heart shaped leaflets, which ‘wilt’ or close at night or if conditions are harsh. The plant has tendency to form vast green carpets under the forest floor. The flowers are white with tiny purple veins and have five petals. The seeds grow in a small green pod.
Wood Sorrel lookalikes
The plant can be confused wirh Red Clover (Trifolium pratense) or White Clover ( ), though the mature leaves of Clover don’t have a heart shape and they primarily grow on grassland, while Wood Sorrel grows on woodland. It could also be confused with other poisonous Trefoils.
There are other similar Oxalis sp. such as Pink Sorrel (Oxalis incarnata) which do not usually grow wild but are also edible.
All about Wood Sorrel
Wood Sorrel forms low growing mats of lush green leaves in shady hedgerows and damp forests around the base of the trees at almost any time of year.
Rising from these carpets, little white flowers with pink or purple veining hang on relatively thin stems. These delicate flowers and soft green leaves fold up its leaves at night and when the conditions are tough.
Medicinal properties of Wood Sorrel
It has diuretic and astringent properties and is full of vitamin C. Hence, wood sorrel has been used in the past for treating scurvy.
Culinary uses and recipes with Wood Sorrel
All parts of the plant are edible, including leaves, flowers and stems.
Wood Sorrel has a sharp taste somewhere in between apple skin, grape and lemon and can function as aromatic herb, salad leaf or green vegetable. The leaves make a tangy Polish soup and are ideal for fish sauces and zingy salads.
Safe foraging of Wood Sorrel
Just like spinach, it should not be eaten in large amounts due to high content in oxalic acid. Though this is not a problem when you follow a diverse diet, people with gout, rheumatism and kidney stones should avoid it in quantities.
Ecological importance of Wood Sorrel
The nectar and pollen of the flowers attract bees, hoverflies and other pollinating insects.