Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Yellow Wood Sorrel
Oxalis stricta

Family: Oxalidaceae
Genus: Oxalis (oks-AL-iss) (Info)
Species: stricta (STRIK-tuh) (Info)

Synonym:Ceratoxalis coloradensis
Synonym:Oxalis europaea
Synonym:Oxalis prostrata
Synonym:Oxalis rupestris
Synonym:Xanthoxalis florida

10 members have or want this plant for trade.

View this plant in a garden


6-12 in. (15-30 cm)

6-9 in. (15-22 cm)
9-12 in. (22-30 cm)

Not Applicable

Sun Exposure:
Sun to Partial Shade
Light Shade


Bloom Color:
Bright Yellow

Bloom Time:
Mid Spring
Late Spring/Early Summer
Mid Summer
Late Summer/Early Fall
Mid Fall

Grown for foliage

Other details:
May be a noxious weed or invasive
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings

Soil pH requirements:
Unknown - Tell us

Patent Information:
Unknown - Tell us

Propagation Methods:
From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall

Seed Collecting:
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds

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There are a total of 13 photos.
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7 positives
3 neutrals
8 negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Negative Clary On Oct 13, 2014, Clary from Lewisburg, PA (Zone 6b) wrote:

What a horrible weed. This is by far the most common and pervasive weed I deal with. 20 years of hand weeding (no chemicals at all), and every year I pull out buckets of this plant. Last year I applied a manure product to my garden and apparently it was so LOADED with sorrel seeds that I have been weeding every week for the entire growing season and still can't keep on top of it. The persistence of this plant alone has been enough to cause me to consider reducing my garden size since I can't keep up with the weeding. If the plants aren't weeded out when young they produce long snaking roots that survive the winter and of course seeds and more seeds.

Negative DannyJoe On Jul 15, 2013, DannyJoe from York, SC (Zone 7b) wrote:

Gets into everything -- EVERYTHING.
And VERY persistent.
WARNING = Has nice lemony flavor; BUT can cause gout ' arthritis. If you eat some and the joints in your hands or feet become painful, then you know what caused it.

Yellow Wood Sorrel gout
Oxalis gout

Positive plant_it On Jun 19, 2013, plant_it from Valparaiso, IN wrote:

Oxalis stricta is native to the U.S. and Canada. Several species of songbirds and upland gamebirds eat the seeds, including the Bobwhite, Mourning Dove, Horned Lark, Field Sparrow, Grasshopper Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow, and Slate-Colored Junco. The Cottontail Rabbit and White-Tailed Deer eat this plant occasionally, even though the leaves are slightly toxic from oxalic acid.

I was surprised to read the reviews about how invasive it is, especially in California it seems. I hardly have any of it here in Northwest Indiana. I read that it doesn't compete well with larger plants so perhaps that's why it's kept in check in the woods here. Dare I say, I'd love to have more of it.

Negative cabngirl On Jan 25, 2011, cabngirl from Sonoma, CA wrote:

This may or may not be the precise variety of oxalis for which I was searching -- but indeed obviously others also posted here about the same thing I no doubt have- the bright acid yellow flowering invasive type, which I suspect is not the only yellow flowering oxalis. All I know is it's incredibly, horrifically invasive (I'm in Sonoma), earning "Frankenstein status" in my garden. I've seen it in fields along Hwy 1 N of Santa Cruz and wondered if it took over or was planted as a companion crop, if it's a nitrogen fixing type of plant or what. It's not that I don't like it aesthetically, I actually love when it comes up in spring and makes it's lush blanket- but criminy!- it's springing up in every pot within a stone's throw and is impossible to get rid of! The pips remain and evidently it can spray it's seed so I now have it showing up everywhere, in potted plants like cymbidiums to in between a patch of aloe plants (ie impossible to dig/pull up).
I was hoping for some silver-lining or a tip on how to control it. A landscaper neighbor said there is a specific herbicide formulated for it but I am loath to use poisons, especially in such a broad way.

Negative laura10801 On Jun 30, 2008, laura10801 from Fairfield County, CT (Zone 6b) wrote:

Do not deliberately put this in your garden! I don't know how it got into mine, but I cannot remove it. It grows in and around other, desirable plants, and would completely own my rock garden if I left it unchecked. If you are thinking of actually spending money to get this plant, don't bother, just come over to my place and help me weed my garden and you keep the dozens of specimens I cannot keep from coming back over and over and over.

Negative palmbob On May 12, 2008, palmbob from Acton, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:

wow...was completely amazed to see any but negative comments about this horrific pest. I grow a lot of rare succulents and cacti, and this plant is ubiquitous and impossible to eradicate. That anyone would actually grow it on purpose amazes me. If anyone wants some, I have about a hundred million specimens.

I was wondering for a while there if perhaps this was a plant that actually spontaneously generated itself since it virtually showed up in every potted plant I ever bought or planted myself, even those from certified sterile soils. Then I was weeding some cactus pots with exceptionally dry soils, and just touching the Oxalis plants elicited an 'explosion' from their seed pods send showers of itty bitty reddish brown seeds in all diretions, up to several feet away, including straight up (and into other pots several shelves up)... ah ha! So that's how it magically ends up everywhere. And if weeding this pest and any segment of it gets left behind, it seems to regenerate itself. It is very hard to pull up from succulent pots as it seems to run its root system down right next to the succulent's roots, so either both plants come up, or the root snaps off... and simply regrows 2 seconds later. Augh! Ugly plant, too... at least in succulent pots where it gets less water and nutrients that it wants (though that sure doesn't seem to keep it from growing). In pots with palms where they get lots of water and fertilizer, this plant looks a lot more lush... and easier to pull up, too. Still, it never goes away.

Neutral distantkin On Feb 18, 2008, distantkin from Saint Cloud, MN (Zone 4b) wrote:

Wouldn't grow it on purpose, but don't mind it either-have fond memories of looking for this one as a child and eating it. Now my oldest son hunts out the "little bananas" to eat.

Negative Malus2006 On Feb 18, 2008, Malus2006 from Coon Rapids, MN (Zone 4a) wrote:

This is a very aggressive weed - Number 1 worst weed for me. Will grow anywhere - even the purple leaf form is just as bad - comes in three size - giant where there are lots of competitions, regular for most landscapes, and dwarf for paths and even lawns. I have seen the dwarf flower and set seeds in lawns. I consider this species the most evil little thing that ever existed.

They often hide under or even in plant clumps, and will grow in desert regions in pots for succulent plants, living on even small amounts of moistures or in the greenhouse. They will grow even in pots put in edge of ponds for bog plants that have the dirt constantly wet - only flooding to a inch or so seem to kill them. Full Sun or Full shade don't bother them thought in full shade they are slower to multiply.

Roundup seem to kill them fairly fast for general population, with plants starting to turning noticeable yellow - brown within 15 minutes.

A very close look alike that have some purple(not all purple, just tinted mostly underside of leaves) foliage and just as evil is Oxalis corniculata which have a taproot and spread by aboveground stolons - they stays on the small side (I have found that some of the dwarf plants above are this species) and have part of their stems close to the ground while O. stricta is upright.

Neutral cactus_lover On Oct 8, 2007, cactus_lover from FSD
Pakistan (Zone 10b) wrote:

It is a weed in everywhere in pots,and on ground.Freely Grow and provide lots of seeds.

Positive jamiejamison On May 19, 2007, jamiejamison from Los Angeles, CA wrote:

I'm in the Southern California, Los Angeles area. Yellow Wood Sorrel shows up whether we like it or not around here. It can be a pest but I've been trying it out as a dye plant (the flower part) for cotton. It seems to work fine dried - so I collect and save year around.

Positive Genghis On May 9, 2007, Genghis wrote:

I love this plant. It has nice yellow flowers and the leaves are delicious. To bad the creeping charlie wiped it out in my yard.

Positive nefabit On Sep 18, 2006, nefabit from Kapolei, HI wrote:

Wood sorrel is definitly a somewhat noxious plant here in Hawaii, but I do not see it in a bad light, for it is very useful as medicine. If I see it, a gather and dry it to use later. Also, it is a very pretty plant that I don't mind seing. Of course, I like a somewhat meadowy looking yard, so that could explain it.

Negative SW_gardener On Mar 19, 2006, SW_gardener from (Zone 6a) wrote:

I live in Southern Ontario(zone 6a) and this is a peskey weed! It'll grow ANYWHERE! In deep dry shade, baking hot sun and it sprouts up behind the lattice on the front of the house where theres almost no light and it never gets any moisture in there........But it somehow sprouts, grows big and pokes through. I also have a purple form that sprouts up in the sunnier spots.....To me its a weed!

Positive BotanyDave On May 11, 2005, BotanyDave from Norman, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

This plant comes up volunteer in my garden, but not enough for my tastes. Oxalis is so called due to the presence of oxalic acid, so the vegetation tastes sour, like lemons. Some people call the little seed pods "little bananas." I like to collect the seeds when ripe- the pods are spring-loaded and launch the seeds everywhere. It is possible to make a lemonade substitue using a concentration of this plant- it was rather popular in the olden days, I understand. Like many foods, you can have too much of a good thing: if you were to eat only oxalis by the plateful over the course of several days, you would be asking for trouble (in the form of gall stones, etc...)- not that this is a very likey occurance, but a disclaimer is always handy. I sometimes wonder if the fake lemonade would have had the same effect...

Positive norska On Mar 11, 2005, norska from Ellicott City, MD (Zone 7a) wrote:

I think this native is cute, even if it is somewhat, errr, exhuberant in its spreading habit. :)
Some people have found a great use for it. When I was at a home & garden show recently, a number of vendors had potatoes with O.stricta growing in them! Such a cute decorative idea for St.Patrick's Day! So, try to save some of that "pesky" seed to plant indoors next January or February, so you can celebrate the Wearin' (or Growin') of the Green!
(yeah, so it's not the traditional Irish shamrock, so what?)

Positive designart On Jan 31, 2005, designart from Schwenksville, PA (Zone 6a) wrote:

Oxalis europaea, Yellow Wood Sorrel
No, I don't plant this native little guy but I do enjoy it. Even though it does come up when it may not be wanted I gather and press it to use in botanical artwork. Once you pick it, you need to press quickly because the leaves will begin to close in a minute or two. The flowers are not worth pressing but the leaves are excellent even if a little difficult to press. Besides, there are no weeds, only misplaced plants!

Negative grovespirit On Jan 31, 2005, grovespirit from Sunset Valley, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

This invasive plant grows nearly everywhere in the USA. It is not a very attractive plant, in my opinion- it is small and not very showy. Everywhere I've gardened, this stuff has been a pain to keep out of my veggie and flower beds.

Neutral Weezingreens On Dec 4, 2002, Weezingreens from Seward, AK (Zone 3b) wrote:

Oxalis strica is native to North America, but is found in Eurasia, as well. It grows along roadsides and trails, even growing in the cracks of sidewalks. It is a familiar "weed" in flower beds, as well.

O. stricta has light green, compound heart-shaped leaves. Each leaflet has a crease, and they fold upward to close in the evening or when stressed. In some cases, the leaves are tinged with purple. Their erect habit differs from other sorrels, as do the stems that tend to jut out at 90 degree angles. Small yellow flowers bloom from spring to autumn, singly or in clusters.

O. stricta does not throw runners, but reproduces by seed. It can function as either annual or perennial. The elongated seed pods have five compartments approximately 10 seeds to a compartment. When ripe, the pods burst at the slightest touch, spreading seed as far as 8 or 10 feet away.

The oxalic acid of O. stricta gives the foliage, flowers and seed pods their sour taste. They are a welcome addition to salads and a refreshing snack along trails. However, excessive amounts of oxalic acid are toxic, so consume conservatively.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Salem, Alabama
Phoenix, Arizona
Scottsdale, Arizona
Los Angeles, California
Oakland, California
Redwood City, California
Reseda, California
Roseville, California
San Francisco, California
Seaside, California
Sonoma, California
Cos Cob, Connecticut
Jacksonville, Florida
Keystone Heights, Florida
Pensacola, Florida
Sarasota, Florida
Atlanta, Georgia
Kapolei, Hawaii
Chicago, Illinois
Westchester, Illinois
Lake Station, Indiana
Oakland City, Indiana
Valparaiso, Indiana
Osceola, Iowa
Benton, Kentucky
Louisville, Kentucky
Melbourne, Kentucky
Portland, Maine
Skowhegan, Maine
Ellicott City, Maryland
Waltham, Massachusetts
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Saint Cloud, Minnesota
Cole Camp, Missouri
Billings, Montana
Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey
Plainfield, New Jersey
Deposit, New York
Fairport, New York
New York City, New York
Henderson, North Carolina
Bucyrus, Ohio
Columbus, Ohio
Glouster, Ohio
Haviland, Ohio
Hilliard, Ohio
Edmond, Oklahoma
Pocola, Oklahoma
Portland, Oregon
Lewisburg, Pennsylvania
Millersburg, Pennsylvania
Schwenksville, Pennsylvania
Westerly, Rhode Island
York, South Carolina
Austin, Texas (2 reports)
Dallas, Texas
Eagle Pass, Texas
Fort Worth, Texas
Georgetown, Texas
Irving, Texas
San Antonio, Texas

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