Oxalis violacea (Violet Wood Sorrel)
|Also known as:|
|Family:||Oxalidaceae (Wood Sorrel)|
|Habitat:||part shade, sun; dry soil; prairies, open woods|
|Bloom season:||April - June|
|Plant height:||4 to 8 inches|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||none|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.
A cluster of a few to several stalked flowers at the top of a naked stem, technically an umbel (stalks all attached at the same point). Flower stalks are about 1 inch long and weak so the flowers tend to flop about. Flowers are about ½ inch across, bell-shaped and fused at the base with 5 pink to lavender spreading lobes that often curl back to some degree. The throat of the tube is green, and holds 5 long yellow-tipped stamens and 5 shorter stamens.
The 5 sepals are slender, thickened at the tip, and light green, except for a spot of color at the very tip, typically purplish but can vary from yellow to orange to pink to purple. A plant may have multiple flowering stems, with a cluster at the end of each stem.
Leaves and stems:
Leaves are basal, palmately compound in 3s, about 1 inch across. Leaflets are generally heart-shaped with the lobed end at the tip (obcordate), toothless and hairless except a few sparse hairs sometimes along the midrib on the underside. Leaflets fold up at night and spread out during the day. Leaf stalks are up to 4 inches long, hairless, and green or purplish. Leaflets may also turn purplish in response to weather conditions.
This is the only lavender-flowered wood sorrel in Minnesota. Most similar is Mountain Wood Sorrel (Oxalis acetosella, formerly O. montana), which has white flowers with pink lines and is present only in the Arrowhead counties while O. violacea is present in much of the rest of the state, the two not overlapping in their ranges. The DNR considers O. acetosella an introduced species in Minnesota, though it is native in northern Wisconsin. Violet Wood Sorrel can do well in a sunny home garden if there is not a lot of competition from taller plants and has well-drained soil.
Please visit our sponsors
Where to buy native seed and plants ↓
Photos by K. Chayka taken at Strandness Prairie, Pope County, and Interstate State Park, Chisago County. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken at Whitewater Wildlife Mangement Area, Winona County, and Lost Valley SNA, Washington County.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?