I dropped a friend off at her house this afternoon and she asked if I could identify this one wildflower she had growing in her yard.
“It’s beautiful and it tastes lemony” she said.
I cringed just a bit because she didn’t know what it was but she was putting it on salads and loved its flavor.
She went to grab some for me and when she returned I knew immediately what it was. “That’s wood sorrel. Light, lemony flavor. Highly nutritious with Vitamin A and C. However, as the Latin name Oxalis sounds, it also contains oxalic acid. Oxalic acid may cause kidney stones if eaten daily or in high amounts. Two other leafy greens that have oxalic acid are spinach and kale. It’s fine to eat one leafy green per day, but not the same leafy green two days in a row.
Sorrel looks like clover, however, its leaves are heart-shaped. Its flower is yellow with five petals and it is found growing wild on lawns all over America.
Medicinally, wood sorrel can be used as a fever reducer, an appetite stimulant and an infusion can be made as a cooling drink. It can help clear the colon and stop vomiting.
Use sorrel on salads, in soups and in recipes. Here are a few I found:
Because wood sorrel has a high nutritional profile which includes vitamins and minerals, it would be best to use the leaves fresh. However, if you want to make a tincture, it is best to make a glycerite using vegetable glycerin instead of alcohol. Alcohol will kill all the nutritional value, while glycerin will keep it intact.
The best way to use sorrel as a medicine is to make an infusion. Gather the fresh leaves from your yard. Be sure to select leaves at least 10 feet from the road, not near a roadside, as any fumes from cars and sprays from city trucks may leave residues. Wash thoroughly to remove dirt and insects. Remember that eggs are not clearly visible so let the leaves soak. I add a little peroxide to the water.
Add 3 tablespoons of the macerated fresh leaves to 1 cup of water and boil for 20 minutes. If you make more, limit yourself to 2 cups of infusion daily as too much can cause oxalic poisoning, or vomiting.
Don’t fear sorrel. It is highly nutritious and for the mineral content alone it can be a valuable addition to your diet.