Click on terms for botanical definitions.
Some say creeping woodsorrel is a shamrock impersonator with its clove-like leaf blade. All will say that this ground-hugging native plant has an eye-catching yellow flower.
Creeping woodsorrel’s flowers have five small yellow petals, about 1/8” to 1/3” long. They are born in small clusters of two to five flowers on the ends of short, slender stalks. Leaves are trifoliate and each is divided into three rounded leaflets. Seeds develop in cylindrical capsules.
Both leaves and stems are edible, and have a tangy, sour taste, thanks to the presence of oxalic acid. (Sorrel is from the German sur, or “sour,” and Oxalis is Greek for “pungent.”) A drink can be made by steeping the leaves in hot water for 10 minutes; chill and add sweetener for a refreshing lemony treat. Creeping woodsorrel is high in vitamin C, but eat in moderation, as too much oxalic acid can inhibit calcium absorption.
Creeping woodsorrel can bloom almost any time during the year, although spring is the time for heavy flowering and seed formation.
Native range: Nearly throughout Florida
To see where natural populations of creeping woodsorrel have been vouchered, visit www.florida.plantatlas.usf.edu.
Soil: Moist to dry soils
Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
Growth habit: 6”+
Garden tips: Creeping woodsorrel is adaptable to a variety of conditions. It makes a great groundcover, but be aware that each seed capsule can hold up to 50 seeds, and a single plant can produce up to 5,000 seeds. When the seeds mature, the capsule will turn downward and forcefully discharge its seeds into the surrounding area. Seeds germinate when temperatures are between 60 and 80 degrees.