|Common wood sorrel|
Oxalis acetosella (wood sorrel or common wood sorrel) is a plant from the genus Oxalis, common in most of Europe and parts of Asia. The binomial name is Oxalis acetosella, because of its sour taste. The common name wood sorrel is often used for other plants in the genus Oxalis. In much of its range it is the only member of its genus and hence simply known as "the" wood sorrel. While common wood sorrel may be used to differentiate it from most other species of Oxalis, in North America, Oxalis montana is also called common wood sorrel. It is also known as Alleluia, due to the fact that it blossoms between Easter and Pentecost, when the Psalms which end with Hallelujah were sung.
The plant has heart-shaped leaves, folded through the middle, that occur in groups of three atop a reddish brown stalk. It flowers from spring to midsummer with small white chasmogamous flowers with pink streaks. Red or violet flowers also occur rarely. During the night or when it rains both flowers and leaves contract. Non-showy, cleistogamous flowers are produced from mid to late summer.
As with other species of wood sorrel, the leaves are sometimes eaten. An oxalate called "sal acetosella" was formerly extracted from the plant, through boiling.
The common wood sorrel is sometimes referred to as a shamrock and given as a gift on St. Patrick's Day. This is due to its trifoliate clover-like leaf, and to early references to shamrock being eaten. Despite this, it is generally accepted that the plant described as shamrock is a species of clover, usually white clover (Trifolium repens).
- Radford, A.E., H.E. Ahles, and C.R. Bell. 1964. Manual of the vascular flora of the Carolinas. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press. p. 648.
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