Oxalis montana (Common Wood Sorrel)

Plant Info
Also known as: Mountain Woodsorrel
Family:Oxalidaceae (Wood Sorrel)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:part shade, shade; rich, moist woods, wooded swamps
Bloom season:May - July
Plant height:2 to 6 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:none
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 5-petals

[photo of flowers] Single flower, often nodding, at the tip of a slender stalk that rises slightly above the leaves. Flowers are ½ to ¾ inch across, with 5 oblong-elliptic petals slightly notched at the tip, white to pale pink with darker pink veins and a spot of yellow at the base of each petal. In the center are 10 white stamens and 5 slender white styles longer than the stamens.

[photo of sepals] Behind the flower, alternating with the petals, are 5 narrowly lance-oblong sepals ¼ to 1/3 as long as the petals. Petal-less, self-fertile (cleistogamous) flowers are produced late in the season on drooping stalks.

Leaves and stems: Leaf attachment: basal Leaf type: compound Leaf type: palmate

[photo of leaves] Leaves are basal, clover-like, ½ to ¾ inch across with three heart-shaped leaflets, wider than long, often folding down, sparsely covered with appressed brown hairs, the slender leaf stalks shorter than the flower stalks, and attached to a scaly, creeping, underground stem (rhizome).

[photo of stem] The flowering stem is 2 to 5½ inches long, hairy near the flower and more sparsely so below, often reddish towards the base, jointed just above the middle with two scale-like attendant bracts.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

[photo of developing fruit] Fruit is an erect, rounded capsule, somewhat flattened with five sections, each containing 1 or 2 seeds.


Common Wood Sorrel is the least well known of our four native sorrel species. A shy delicate flower most often hidden away in cool woods and swamps in the Arrowhead, it can form large creeping colonies, spreading in and around a large area. One population we encountered however was in semi-open sandy pines at a popular wayside rest. It is easily identified by the hairy, clover-like leaves and distinctive pink and white striped flowers. The name of this species has switched back and forth between Oxalis acetosella and Oxalis montana; the latter is currently accepted.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka and Peter M. Dziuk taken in Lake County.


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Norma - T59 R12 Section 17, St. Louis County, East Central
on: 2016-06-30 11:19:01

Found about dozen plants flowering on 6/29/16.

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