Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Purple wood-sorrel

with 24 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

24 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

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