March 10, 2022

Native Flora of the Month: Wood Sorrel (genus Oxalis)

Clover (left) and wood sorrel (right). Notice how the sorrel has heart-shaped leaves that are smooth around the edges, and lacks the clover’s distinctive light green pattern on the leaves.

As the weather warms and you enjoy spring hikes, you might easily mistake it for clover on the forest floor. But this springtime foliage is actually the wild edible wood sorrel. The three-petaled leaves turn dark red or burgundy when mature, and have a sour, somewhat citrusy taste.

All parts of this plant are edible, and much like the pine needle tea we often enjoy in camp, it’s very high in Vitamin C and was used to treat scurvy. Be careful about eating too much, as the acidic green can upset your stomach in large quantities. And as always, only eat plants you have a 100% positive identification on from an experienced forager.