Wood Sorrel

Wood Sorrel
Oxalis acetosella

One of the first plants I teach to children is the “Pickle Plant,” Commonly known as Wood Sorrel and oxalis. This plant is harmless for those people who do not have any kidney or urinary medical problems. For those who do, they should avoid eating and using this plant for any reason. The plant contains high quantities of oxalic acid. Oxalic acid can interfere with calcium absorption if eaten in large quantities or by people with kidney or urinary disease. Cooking wood sorrel reduces the amount of oxalic acid considerably. The sour lemony taste and the miniature pickle shaped seed pods are tasty raw. Since this plant has well defined leaves, seed pods and flowers it is hard to misidentify it for some other plant. It grows everywhere easily, many times hiding under Sheeps Sorrel or cropping up in sidewalk cracks.

As with most lemony plants wood sorrel is a great addition to salads. Popping a few leaves and flowers into your mouth will relieve thirst. The leaves and flowers make nice additions to rice dishes, soups, stews and in marinades. Once dried the leaves and flowers will make a curdling agent for milk.

The high Vitamin C content of wood sorrel makes it good to keep on hand for supplementing this vitamin. A few leaves and flowers can be added to less tasty teas when treating fevers and the common cold and flu. Fresh leaves and the juice from the whole plant will clean wounds and help prevent infection. This plant draws boils to a head and helps reduce the inflammation from abscesses.

The fresh juice will remove iron mold stains from clothes, linen and towels. Crush the entire plant and bring to a boil with a small amount of water. Cool and strain, then pour onto stains allowing the juice to sit for at least an hour. Wash normally and the stains should disappear.

Wood sorrel will grow well in the shade and easily propagates. Planting them about a foot apart they will spread out and cover any bare patches on the ground as a result of leaf cover from trees.

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