Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Slender Yellow Wood Sorrel (Oxalis stricta)

The gold-cup sorrel from his gauzy screen Shone like a fairy crown, enchased and beaded, Left on some morn, when light flashed in their eyes unheeded. --- Joseph Rodman Drake, "Bronx" Common Name: Slender Yellow Wood Sorrel Scientific Name: Oxalis stricta


Yellow woodsorrel emerges from a taproot and forms small, erect, bushy plants up to 20 inches tall. The stems are slender, gray-green, pubescent, slightly ascending, and branched at the base. They will occasionally root at nodes. [1] Leaves: alternate with three heart-shaped leaflets, three-parted palmate-compound, less than one inch across, pale green, with long petioles; radially-symmetrical; slender stalk usually up to 8 inches tall. [1] Flowers: yellow with five petals. They are up to 1/2 inch across and borne at end of stems in clusters of one to four. The are borne during May to September. [1] The leaves, stem, and flowers of the wood sorrel taste lemony. "Sorrel" comes from a French word for sour, and "Oxalis" comes from oxys, which means sharp or acidic in Greek. [2] The delicate leaves fold shut to protect themselves from direct sunlight. They also shut when it gets dark, possibly to protect themselves from the cold of night, or from damage from too much dew. Folklore describes the wood sorrel as praying by folding its leaves at night. [2] The edible fruit is a straight capsule about as long and wide as a child’s toenail clipping. Inside are tiny, round reddish-brown seeds. If you touch a very ripe fruit, its sides split apart and the seeds pop out. [2]


Use wood sorrel leaves, flowers, and fruit capsules raw in salads. Cook them in soups, stews, or other dishes. Make a tea with them: pour boiling water over a handful of leaves, stems, and flowers. Let them sit, covered, away from the heat, 20 minutes. Strain out the plants, sweeten if you want, and drink the lemony-tasting tea. Or chill it first, to make ice tea. Sorrels are loaded with vitamin C. [2] Use the leaves fresh in salads or beans, or chop and sprinkle on fish over the fire for a unique lemony taste that will draw raves (get rid of the tough stems first, though). The plant does contain Oxalic Acid, but if you just use it as a compliment to the main meal or an addition to a side dish, this plant is perfectly safe for ingestion, and when cooked, the Oxalic Acid is much reduced anyway. At home, use Oxalis in place of lemon for a subtly different taste. Add to sauces, soups, salads, greens, beans, or peas for a refreshing spark. [3] [1] href= [2] [3]