Oxalis oregana

Here’s a photo of Oxalis oregana, or redwood sorrel. I took this photo in May, within the California coast redwood forest of Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. This was during an ecology field course.

Oxalis oregana, of the Oxalidaceae, is native to coastal British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, and California. This perennial groundcover grows in dense carpets under the shaded canopy of redwood and Douglas-fir forests. Redwood sorrel is a species that prefers shade–photosynthesizing at light levels of 1/200th of full sunlight. When it is too bright, the three heart-shaped leaves fold downward until it is shady again.

Not seen in this photograph are the delicate, pink to white flowers with five petals. This species also contains oxalic acid, leaving the edible leaves with a sour and tangy taste. This hints at the genus name Oxalis coming from the Greek oxys, meaning “sour”.

Oxalis oregana

6 responses to “Oxalis oregana”

  1. Jane / MulchMaid

    One of my favorite native groundcovers for all the shade in my front garden. So Oregon!

  2. Sandy Steinman
  3. Bonnie

    Puts me in mind of the shamrock. 🙂 Well the one we all draw.

  4. Leigh

    Very pretty. Does anyone know if the purple variety of oxalis has edible leaves, as well?

  5. Taisha

    Thanks for posting your photos, Sandy! Apparently the leaves of the purple variety, Oxalis triangularis, is edible. However, as it too contains oxalic acid, I have read it is not recommended to eat large quantities of raw leaves, and that cooking the leaves does reduce the amount of acid.
    You may or may not know that oxalic acid is also present in spinach (Spinacia oleracea).

  6. Old Ari

    Oxalic is a very strong organic acid, and it complexes iron salts, nibble a few leaves but don’t overdo

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