Wood-sorrel

©Guy Edwardes/2020VISION

Wood-sorrel

Scientific name: Oxalis acetosella
A delicate, small plant of woodlands and hedgerows, Wood-sorrel has distinctive, trefoil leaves and white flowers with purple veins; both fold up at night.

Species information

Statistics

Height: up to 10cm

Conservation status

Common.

When to see

April to May

About

The fresh green, trefoil leaves of Wood-sorrel form distinctive clumps in woodlands and shady hedgerows, often growing from the moss on fallen logs. Rising from these cushions, the delicate white flowers hang on tiny stems, blooming around Eastertime and giving rise to its popular European name of 'Alleluia'.

How to identify

Wood-sorrel has distinctive trefoil leaves - at night, the three, heart-shaped lobes are folded back into a tent, while during the day, they flatten out. The white flowers have five petals and tiny purple veins, they also close as the light fades, reopening in the dappled sun.

Distribution

Widespread.

Did you know?

Certain plants are used as indicators of how old a woodland is, although these plants may differ from region to region, simply because habitats, soils and conditions change the flora present. Wood-sorrel is used as an indicator of ancient woodlands mainly in Central and Southern England.

How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts manage many woodland nature reserves sympathetically for the benefit of all kinds of wildlife. A mix of coppicing, scrub-cutting, ride maintenance and non-intervention all help woodland wildlife to thrive. You can help too: volunteer for your local Wildlife Trust and you could be involved in everything from traditional forest crafts to surveying for woodland plants.