yellow wood sorrel

(Oxalis stricta)

Conservation Status
yellow wood sorrel
  IUCN Red List

not listed


N5 - Secure

SNR - Unranked


not listed

Wetland Indicator Status
  Great Plains

FACU - Facultative upland


FACU - Facultative upland

  Northcentral & Northeast

FACU - Facultative upland


Yellow wood sorrel is an 6 to 24, but usually 6 to 12 tall, usually erect, sometimes lying flat on the ground, bushy, perennial forb rising on a central, branching stem from a long, slender rhizome.

The stems have two types of hairs. They are sparsely to moderately covered with short, loosely appressed or upward curving hairs. They are also sparsely to densely covered with long spreading hairs.

The leaves are alternate and on long leaf stalks. They are palmately divided into three leaflets.

The leaflets are to ¾ wide and inversely heart-shaped with the attachment at the narrow end. They are gray-green or green and usually hairless, but sometimes have a fringe of hairs along the margin. The margins are untoothed. The leaflets open and spread outwards during the day. They fold closed along the midrib and droop downward at night. They also close under intense sunlight. They repel water, so that after a rain they look dry with water beads on the surface.

The inflorescence is a branched cluster of 2 to 7 flowers usually held below the leaves. The central flower is flanked by two branches, each bearing 2 or more flowers.

The flowers are about ½ wide on long flower stalks that position them above the leaves. They have 5 petals and 5 much shorter sepals which are visible between the petals. Like the leaves, they close at night.

The fruit is a to ½ capsule held on an erect, unbent stalk.




6 to 24


Flower Color




Similar Species


Southern yellow wood sorrel (Oxalis dillenii) does not grow from a rhizome. The stems have short, appressed or upward curving hairs but do not have long, spreading hairs. The inflorescence may be a single flower or an umbrella-like, unbranched flower cluster, with all flowers arising from the same point. The fruit is a ½ to 1 capsule held on an erect, unbent stalk. In Minnesota it is widespread but much less common.


Dry. Prairies, disturbed sites.




May to October


Pests and Diseases






Distribution Map



2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 24, 28, 29, 30.








Common and widespread

  Kingdom Plantae (green algae and land plants)  
  Subkingdom Viridiplantae (green plants)  
  Infrakingdom Streptophyta (land plants and green algae)  
  Superdivision Embryophyta (land plants)  
  Division Tracheophyta (vascular plants)  
  Subdivision Spermatophytina (seed plants)  
  Class Magnoliopsida (flowering plants)  
  Superorder Rosanae  


Oxalidales (woodsorrels, quandongs, and allies)  


Oxalidaceae (wood sorrel)  


Oxalis (wood sorrel)  
  Subgenus Oxalis (palmately compound wood sorrel)  
  Section Corniculatae  

Subordinate Taxa






Acetosella chinensis

Acetosella fontana

Oxalis chinensis

Oxalis corniculata var. stricta

Oxalis cymosa

Oxalis diffusa

Oxalis europaea

Oxalis fontana

Oxalis repens var. stricta

Oxalis shinanoensis

Oxalis stricta var. decumbens

Oxalis stricta var. piletocarpa

Oxalis stricta var. rufa

Oxalis stricta var. villicaulis

Xanthoxalis cymosa

Xanthoxalis europaea

Xanthoxalis stricta

Xanthoxalis stricta var. piletocarpa


Common Names


common yellow oxalis

erect woodsorrel

sheep sorrel


tall wood sorrel

toad sorrel

upright yellow sorrel

upright yellow wood-sorrel

upright yellow woodsorrel

yellow woodsorrel

yellow wood sorrel













Similar to a hand. Having more than three lobes or leaflets that radiate from a single point at the base of the leaf.



A horizontal, usually underground stem. It serves as a reproductive structure, producing roots below and shoots above at the nodes.



An outer floral leaf, usually green but sometimes colored, at the base of a flower.

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    yellow wood sorrel      


    yellow wood sorrel   yellow wood sorrel  


    yellow wood sorrel   yellow wood sorrel  


    yellow wood sorrel   yellow wood sorrel  



  Yellow Wood Sorrel
Andree Reno Sanborn
  Yellow Wood Sorrel  

also called sour grass

Oxalis europaea

  Oxalis stricta COMMON WOOD SORREL
Frank Mayfield
  Oxalis stricta COMMON WOOD SORREL  
  Oxalis stricta | Yellow Woodsorrel (Pt 1 of 2)

Published on Jul 9, 2012

Visit Website:

Photos used under protection of the "fair use" section (107) of the U.S. copyright act of 1976.

  Oxalis stricta | Yellow Woodsorrel (Pt 2 of 2)

Published on Jul 9, 2012

NOTE: The mnemonic of another plant (Stellaria media | Chickweed) in this course is based on the "4 essentials of survival ". The mnemonic of this plant is based on the "Rule of 3s". In any extreme situation you can't survive for more than 3 minutes without air, 3 hours without shelter, 3 days without water and 3 weeks without food. Now, assuming you're on land (looking at plants; not in a water survival situation), air in this mnemonic, will represent weather not oxygen.

MNEMONIC EXPLAINED: You love, love, love (3 heart-shaped leaflets) this plant and it loves, loves, loves (3 heart-shaped leaflets) you. It first reminds you of the "Rule of 3s". It then provides those 4 things necessary for survival: perfect weather/air (yellow star-shaped flowers represent clear weather; sunny skies and starry nights; not a cloud in the sky), a tarp shelter (each leaflet represents a tarp and the fold down the middle [it folds at night; at bedtime] represents your ridge line tied between 2 trees), water (the erect seed pod capsules [they bend sharply upward on their stalks], on the plant, represent water bottles with pull spouts on top [a short point]. The bottles/seed pods are erect and have pull spouts so that all of the water won't spill out) and food (the entire plant [above ground] is edible).




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Other Videos
  Stijve klaverzuring Oxalis stricta 19 juli 2010.wmv
laverzuring Oxalis stricta 19 juli 2010.wmv Wim Derks Wim Derks

Uploaded on Jul 19, 2010

Oorspronkelijk uit Amerika afkomstig, nu overal ingeburgerd als onkruid op akkers en in tuinen, maar ook wel eens in het bos, zoals hier in Oranjewoud waar ik hem al jaren zie staan.

  Yellow Woodsorrel (Oxalis Stricta) Seeds Exploding in Slow Motion

Published on Sep 16, 2012

Yellow woodsorrel (oxalis stricta) seed pods that are mature will "fire" their seeds when touched. These weeds are effective at dispersing seeds up to 13 feet away.

Shot with a Casio Exilim EX FC-100 at 240FPS. Audio from "Operation Cue" for 1964 from

  Yellow Woodsorrel (Oxalis stricta) Popping it's Seeds
Simon Snow

Published on Jul 14, 2013

I recently identified my yellow woodsorrel and therefore discovered they they pop and scatter their seeds like members of the impatiens family of plants. I then decided that I must have a slow motion video of it happening.

This is my first attempt.

  Day Hike ( part 2 ) Yellow Wood Sorrel

Uploaded on Jul 28, 2010

This plant is perfectly edible, but it does contain oxalic acid which can cause problems if consumed in large quantities. I use it as a trail nibble. It tastes real good and is tart like lemons. The tartness is a good sign that the plant may contain oxalic acid.




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Location: Cass County

yellow wood sorrel  
  Crystal Boyd

Location: Pine Bend Bluffs SNA


Avon Hills Forest SNA, North Unit

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