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Upright Yellow Sorrel

Oxalis stricta

Please keep in mind that it is illegal to uproot a plant without the landowner's consent and care should be taken at all times not to damage wild plants. Wild plants should never be picked for pleasure and some plants are protected by law.
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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Oxalidaceae (Wood Sorrel)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
30 centimetres tall
Fields, gardens, lawns, meadows, roadsides, wasteland, woodland.

Yellow, 5 petals
The flowers are bright yellow and long-stalked. 5 petals. Pollinated by insects.
A capsule with erect stalks. The seeds can be dispersed up to 4 metres (13 feet) away from the plant.
A annual flower with trefoil leaves. The 3 leaflets are heart-shaped and sometimes purplish. The leaves are often less purple than those of the similar looking Spreading Yellow Sorrel (Oxalis corniculata). The leaves of Upright Spreading Sorrel are about 2cm wide and they curl up at night.
Other Names:
Common Yellow Oxalis, Common Yellow Woodsorrel, Lemon Clover, Pickle Plant, Sourgrass, Yellow Woodsorrel.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Oxalis stricta, also known as "yellow woodsorrel" or "common yellow oxalis," is a perennial herb that is native to North America. It is a hardy plant that can grow in a variety of soil types and can tolerate shade and dry conditions. The plant has small yellow flowers and clover-like leaves. It is often found growing in woodlands, along roadsides, and in other disturbed areas. It is considered an invasive species in some regions. It is also edible and has a tangy, lemony flavor and can be used to make a tea or added to salads and other dishes. The plant contains oxalic acid, which can be harmful in large quantities, so it's best to consume it in moderation.


Upright Yellow Sorrel, also known as Oxalis stricta, is a small herbaceous plant that belongs to the Oxalidaceae family. This plant is native to North America and is commonly found in fields, meadows, and disturbed areas. It is a fast-growing, spreading plant that can be seen blooming from late spring to early fall.

Physical Description

Upright Yellow Sorrel is a small plant that grows up to 12 inches tall. Its leaves are composed of three heart-shaped leaflets that are bright green in color. The flowers of this plant are small, measuring about 1/2 inch in diameter, and have five yellow petals with darker markings in the center. The flowers are held above the foliage on long, slender stalks.

Habitat and Distribution

Upright Yellow Sorrel is a common plant that can be found throughout North America, from Canada to Mexico. It grows in a variety of habitats, including fields, meadows, lawns, and disturbed areas such as roadsides and waste places.

Cultural Significance

Upright Yellow Sorrel has several cultural and culinary uses. In some Native American cultures, the leaves of this plant were used to treat sore throats, mouth sores, and other ailments. The plant is also used in traditional medicine in some countries to treat various ailments, including fever, headaches, and inflammation.

In addition to its medicinal properties, Upright Yellow Sorrel is also used as a food source. The leaves of the plant can be used in salads or cooked like spinach. The sour taste of the leaves comes from oxalic acid, which is present in many plants, including spinach and rhubarb. This sour taste makes the plant a popular ingredient in salads and other dishes.

Garden Use

Upright Yellow Sorrel is a popular plant in gardens due to its attractive foliage and flowers. The plant is easy to grow and can tolerate a variety of soil types and conditions. It can be grown as a ground cover or in rock gardens. The plant can also be grown in containers.

However, gardeners should be aware that Upright Yellow Sorrel can spread rapidly and become invasive in some areas. It is important to monitor the plant's growth and take steps to control its spread if necessary.

In conclusion, Upright Yellow Sorrel, or Oxalis stricta, is a common plant that is known for its medicinal properties and culinary uses. It is a popular plant in gardens due to its attractive foliage and flowers. However, gardeners should be aware of its potential to become invasive and take steps to control its spread.

Ecological Significance

Upright Yellow Sorrel is an important food source for many pollinators, including bees and butterflies. The bright yellow flowers of the plant attract these insects, which feed on the nectar and pollen of the flowers. In turn, these pollinators play an important role in the reproduction of the plant and the maintenance of the ecosystem.

The plant is also known for its ability to fix nitrogen in the soil. Nitrogen is an essential nutrient for plant growth, and the ability of Upright Yellow Sorrel to fix nitrogen allows it to thrive in nutrient-poor soils. This process also benefits other plants in the area by increasing the availability of nitrogen in the soil.

Management and Control

While Upright Yellow Sorrel can be an attractive plant in gardens and an important food source for pollinators, it can also become invasive in some areas. The plant has a high reproductive rate and can spread quickly, forming dense patches that crowd out other plants.

To control the spread of Upright Yellow Sorrel, it is important to remove the plant before it goes to seed. Hand-pulling or digging up the plant is the most effective method of control. Herbicides can also be used, but should be applied carefully to avoid damaging other plants in the area.

It is also important to monitor the growth of Upright Yellow Sorrel and take action to prevent it from spreading to other areas. This can include removing any seeds or plant material that may be carried by animals or machinery, and maintaining a healthy and diverse plant community that can compete with Upright Yellow Sorrel.

In summary, Upright Yellow Sorrel is an important plant that has cultural, culinary, and ecological significance. While it can be an attractive addition to gardens and an important food source for pollinators, it can also become invasive in some areas. Proper management and control measures can help prevent the spread of the plant and maintain a healthy and diverse ecosystem.


Upright Yellow Sorrel can be propagated by seed or by division. Seeds can be collected from the plant in the fall and sown in the spring. The seeds should be sown in a well-draining soil and kept moist until they germinate.

To propagate Upright Yellow Sorrel by division, the plant can be dug up and divided into smaller sections. Each section should have at least one healthy stem and root system. The divided sections can then be replanted in a well-draining soil and watered well.

In the garden, Upright Yellow Sorrel can be used to add a splash of color to rock gardens, borders, and meadows. It can also be used as a ground cover in areas where other plants may not thrive. In addition, Upright Yellow Sorrel can be grown in containers, making it a versatile plant that can be used in a variety of settings.

Overall, Upright Yellow Sorrel is a plant that is rich in cultural, ecological, and culinary significance. Whether you are a gardener, a forager, or simply an admirer of nature, this small and unassuming plant is well worth getting to know. With its bright yellow flowers, heart-shaped leaves, and sour taste, Upright Yellow Sorrel is a plant that is both beautiful and useful, and one that is sure to capture the imagination of anyone who takes the time to appreciate it.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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