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Oxalidaceae: Wood Sorrel Family Plant Identification Characteristics.

Oxalidaceae
Plants of the
Wood Sorrel Family

      If you celebrate St. Patrick's Day, then you will like the Woodsorrel family. Woodsorrel is also called "shamrocks", and the little green leaves (or cut-outs like them) are seen everywhere when the Irish spirit is in the air. Some species of clover (Trifolium) from the Pea Family are also known as shamrocks. Woodsorrel could easily be mistaken for clover with its three-parted leaves, but the flowers are very different.

      The solitary flowers are regular and bisexual with 5 sepals, 5 petals and 10 stamens. The length of the stamens may vary. The ovary is positioned superior. It consists of 5 united carpels (syncarpous) with the partition walls present, forming an equal number of chambers. There are separate styles for each carpel. It matures as an explosive capsule. These are delicate plants full of acidic, oxalate juice. Worldwide, there are 8 genera and 950 species. Only Oxalis is native to North America.

      Plants with oxalic acid have been used in external cancer remedies to literally etch away the offending tumor. One recipe suggests fermenting the bruised, oxalate-rich leaves in a crock-pot in the ground or 6 to 8 weeks. The resulting black salve is placed on the tumor and left in place until it draws out the cancer and falls off. It is reported to be extremely painful (Cummings). This fermentation process would involve fungi, probably with antibiotic effects and other unknown properties.


Key Words:
Small plants with shamrock leaves and flower parts in fives.

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Oxalis oregana. Redwood Sorrel.

Oxalis oregana. Redwood Sorrel. Redwood National Park. California.

Oxalis oregana. Redwood Sorrel.

Oxalis oregana. Redwood Sorrel. Redwood National Park. California.

Oxalis dillenii. Slender Yellow Woodsorrel.

Oxalis dillenii. Slender Yellow Woodsorrel. Washington.

Foraging the Mountain West
Foraging the Mountain West

There are more
Wood Sorrel Family pictures
at PlantSystematics.org.


Botany in a Day: The Patterns Method of Plant Identification
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Books
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Thomas J. Elpel
Roadmap to Reality: Consciousness, Worldviews, andthe Blossoming of Human Spirit
Roadmap
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Living Homes: Stone Masonry, Log, and Strawbale Construction
Living
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Participating in Nature: Wilderness Survival and Primitive Living Skills.
Participating
in Nature
Foraging the Mountain West: Gourmet Edible Plants, Mushrooms, and Meat.
Foraging the
Mountain West
Botany in a Day: The Patterns Method of Plant Identification
Botany
in a Day
Shanleya's Quest: A Botany Adventure for Kids
Shanleya's
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