This week's wild edible is Wood Sorrel!
-Wood sorrel is also known as Oxalis which translated means “sour”. This is due to the oxalic acid content in the plant which gives it a slightly sour or tart taste. Oxalic acid is considered toxic in large quantities because it hinders the absorption of calcium. Eaten in moderation on a varied diet, this plant is considered safe. Many other plants contain oxalic acid such as spinach, broccoli, and chard. People with gout, kidney stones, rheumatism, arthritis, and hyperacidity should avoid plants high in oxalic acid such as wood sorrel and others listed.
-The edible parts of this plant are the leaves, flowers, and young seed pods. Due to the oxalic acid, this plant has a mild sour flavor that some say resembles lemons or even apple peels. Some of its best uses are in soups, salads, beverages, or as a seasoning. This plant is great at quenching thirst and has a light, crisp, refreshing taste.
-Wood sorrel usually grows between 4 and 12 inches tall. The leaves are compound leaves in groups of 3. There is a crease down the middle of each leaf that gives it a distinct “heart” shape and often times will fold upward along the crease. A small yellow flower with 5 petals can usually be found adorning this plant between late spring and early fall. This is flower, accompanied by the heart-shaped leaves in groups of 3 is a tell-tell sign the plant in question is wood sorrel.
-This plant can often be found in moist, partially shaded areas such as forest floors and the edge of woodlands.
-One plant that closely resembles wood sorrel is the common clover. Luckily both are edible, but if you want to make the plant in question is actually wood sorrel the key differences are the leaf shapes (wood sorrel is heart shaped while clover is an oval shape), leaf markings (if the leaf of the plant in question has a white “V” shape on the leaves it is clover), and flowers (wood sorrel has a small yellow flower with 5 petals, while clover has a flower head consisting of many tubular shaped petals).
-This plant has a few medicinal properties that include (but aren’t limited to): being a diuretic, treating scurvy (due to high vitamin C content), helping relieve indigestion, treating urinary disorders, treating hemorrhages, and also acts as an astringent. Some people believe that is also has blood cleansing properties and was thought to have been used by cancer patients in the past.
**When identifying plants you are unfamiliar with, please use as multiple references, as well as help from experts when available. Unless you are 110% sure what a plant is, it is best to avoid it completely.
**If you plan on using any plants for medicinal uses, consult a healthcare professional, as well as botanist familiar in the field of wild plants. And as always, use as many references and expert opinions as possible when identifying a plant.
**Be sure to avoid any plants growing near roads, around chemicals, other poisonous plants, or polluted/contaminated water.
**As always, be sure to use the Universal Edibility Test to ensure the plant is the correct plant and to help identify any unknown allergies you may have.