Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Purple wood-sorrel

with 25 comments


In my back yard on September 8th I found this little purple wood-sorrel flower (Oxalis drummondii). When I say little I mean maybe five-eighths of an inch (15mm) across.

(Yesterday at Muir Woods National Monument in California I saw plenty of redwood sorrel (Oxalis oregana), though none of it was flowering.)

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 30, 2016 at 5:01 AM

25 Responses

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  1. I picked a wood sorrel very like this today. I picked it to put in a vase. ( I may have been able to eat it, I think). Upon investigating the wood-sorrel/oxalis, I learned that the New Zealand yam is actually oxalis tuberosa.


    October 30, 2016 at 5:52 AM

  2. While you’ve focused on sorrel as flora, I recently met sorrel as fauna: a member of the horse family. If the two meanings of sorrel have a common ancestor, etymologically speaking, I couldn’t figure it out, but it’s interesting that the word is used so differently.


    October 31, 2016 at 7:06 AM

  3. I too have wondered about the completely different uses for the word sorrel. We have a common sorrel here that pops up everywhere in the garden…the plant, alas, not the horse!…in Peoria we lived on a ravine, and I found exactly one wood sorrel plant growing down there. It is a beautiful plant but quite uncommon in my area.


    October 31, 2016 at 9:18 AM

    • Maybe you can write (and illustrate, of course) a children’s book in which sorrel horses keep popping up all over the place.

      I just pointed Linda to


      for a confirmation that sorrel the plant and sorrel the horse are unrelated words.

      While your wood-sorrel in Peoria was rare, we have two common species of Oxalis in Austin, the one shown here and another with yellow flowers.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 31, 2016 at 9:40 AM

  4. Nailed this one. We’ve an Oxalis hanging in our window. The flowers are edible but they are so tiny we eschew rather than chew.

    Steve Gingold

    October 31, 2016 at 3:01 PM

  5. […] From the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, here’s an opening bud of purple wood-sorrel, Oxalis drummondii, on September 26th. Since then I’ve continued to see these small flowers in various places around Austin, including right at home. Speaking of which, if you’d like to see what an open flower of this species looked like in our yard in 2016, you can check out a post from then. […]

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