Wood sorrel’s name is an English distortion of sorrel de boys, a Middle French
expression meaning “sour,” a reference to the taste of the leaves. Oxalic acid, the agent
responsible for the sour taste, was first isolated from members of this genus, hence the
acid’s name. Wood sorrel is found on forest floors, especially hemlock and spruce fir forests, in
rich and somewhat moist soils, and
can tolerate shade. It spreads by extending rhizomes (roots) or stolons (essentially above-ground roots).
Plants: Woodsorrels are less than 4" (10 cm) high, and evergreen.
Leaves: Leaves are basal, in groups of three heart-shaped leaflets that resemble clover. The leaves are stemless, emerging directly from
the roots. They fold and unfold slowly in response to sunlight.
Flowers: Delicate and beautiful, white or
pink, with darker pink veins and five petals, about ¾" (1.9 cm) around.
Fruits: A round capsule.
Edibility: Wood sorrel is mildly poisonous, though its sharp
sour taste is likely to dissuade anyone from eating it by accident.
Oxalis montana on Earl J.S. Rook's Flora, Fauna, Earth, and Sky ...
The Natural History of the Northwoods
Oxalis montana on Plants for a Future, a resource and information centre for edible and otherwise useful plants