Herbs'n' Other Alternative Health Remedies

Herbs'n' Other Alternative Health Remedies
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Sunday, June 24, 2012

Yellow Wood-sorrel

Oxalis acetosella

This particular flower was posted on my blog In September 2009. My grand daughter and I took the pictures. I told her that as a child my sister and I would pull off the heart shaped leaves and eat them. She tasted one. We called them "bittersweet" because of their bitter taste and she agreed with me that they had a somewhat sour taste, but she reached for another, and another...


Yellow Wood-sorrel

Yellow Wood Sorrel

Judy, who we know as Squirrel Queen told me that they are called Yellow Wood Sorrel or sour grass, which makes perfect sense. That's all I wanted was a name. Thanks, Judy!! 

(The shinier leaf that you see interspersed in the above photo belongs to Creeping Charlie and you can find more information about that herb by clicking on it's photo on the blog's side panel or here.) But back to wood sorrel. It is truly amazing how many times we walk through the grass stepping on the heads of plants which can be eaten and are not even aware of it. 

Oxalis acetosella, Otto Wilhelm Thomé Flora von Deutschland Österreich und der Schweiz (1885)

photo image 

This particular flower has been referred to as a shamrock and presented as a gift on St. Patrick ’s Day. Saint Patrick was said to have used this very flower to symbolize the trinity as he spoke of God the father, the son and the holy ghost.  

It has also been called Common Wood-sorrel, Oxalis, Alleluia, Mountain Wood-sorrel, sours or sour grass. This interesting little plant is hardy and can boast flowers of white, yellow, white with pink streaks and rarely red. At night and during the rain the flowers and leaves will fold, closing, as if in prayer.  The dainty little flowering plant self-seeds, propelling it’s seeds through the air several feet away, quickly spreading to other areas of the yard or garden until the entire grounds can be covered with a bed of soft shamrocks and bright little flowers in no time. 

It is edible and has been considered food for over a thousand years.  The Potawatomi Indians cooked it with sugar and ate it as a dessert. The Kiowa Indians chewed it to relieve thirst when on trips or long walks, the Algonquins used it as an aphrodisiac, the Cherokee tribes ate it to relieve sore throats and mouth sores. The Iroquois thought it relieved cramps, fever and nausea. 

It is a green vegetable similar to spinach and broccoli containing oxalic acid which can interfere with food digestion and prevent the body from absorbing some trace minerals, but the U.S. National Institute of Health has conducted tests and states that the negative effects of oxalic acid has little or no nutritional consequence on those who eat a well-balanced diet. The oxalate called “sal acetosella” can be extracted from the plant by simply boiling it so you may want to consider limiting the consumption of eating it raw, and perhaps eat it more often after cooking.

Early Italian painters depicted the blossom. Old writing has been found that refers to apothecaries and herbalists finding it to be useful. The flowers and leaves were dried and used to make acetosella, or vinegar salts which were also referred to as salts of lemon. The leaves have long been the basis of a green sauce which was historically served with fish or boiled to create a mouth rinse or a tonic. While the leaves have a vinegary taste and are often served with more robust food, or sweetened to taste,  the base of the flower petals is found to be sweet like honey. 

Thank you for you visit today.  This post linked to Weekend Flowers! Take care, stay healthy and God bless.


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betchai June 25, 2012 at 12:05 AM  

oh, i did not know this can be eaten, i am not sure though if our bermuda sorrel which looks like this exactly is the same as yellow wood-sorrel

Icy BC June 25, 2012 at 9:07 AM  

Judy, I have this yellow wood-sorrel all over the backyard. Thanks for the name, and this is such an interesting read.

They are indeed hardy, and spread very fast.

Tina´s PicStory June 25, 2012 at 12:29 PM  

thanks for sharing your lovely flowers with us! :)

herbie June 27, 2012 at 5:08 PM  

Very interesting - never tried to eat one of the flowers! I have heard of people using them in some culinary treats, though. Nice picture! :)

Clytie June 28, 2012 at 11:25 PM  

We used to eat the leaves ... we called it "sourgrass", mostly because it tastes like sheep sorrel, which looks more like grass than this.

I like "bittersweet" as a better description!

SquirrelQueen July 3, 2012 at 3:20 AM  

I saw a little patch of wood sorrel in the back part of my yard the other day. I remember eating it as a child. Bittersweet is a great description of the taste.

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