Oxalis corniculata: Creeping Woodsorrel

Family: Oxalidaceae
Common name: Creeping Woodsorrel, Sleeping beauty, Procumbent yellow sorrel

It is very easy to find Creeping Woodsorrel plants in home gardens, manicured lawns, open areas and roadsides. They are highly invasive and almost impossible to get rid of.

Creeping woodsorrel plants grow to a height of 5-10 cms only, but is capable of spreading over 1 meter. The stem grows erect for a few centimeters before it bends down and grows horizontal to the ground. They are capable of rooting at the nodes, the primary reason why they can spread over large areas.

The leaves are very beautiful, having 3 leaflets which are rounded at the ends and having a small cleft in the middle like clover leaves. The leaves fold along these clefts and droop at night, opening up again in the morning. The stem and leaves are hairy with downy white hair around the edges of the leaves.

Creeping woodsorrel plants produce tiny yellow flowers which are about a centimeter wide with 5 yellow petals. Stamens and style are clearly visible at the center. These flowers later produce small, narrow, pointy fruit capsules that are initially green, pointing upwards.

Once mature these capsules burst open releasing seeds over large areas. This is another reason why Creeping woodsorrel plants are highly invasive. Each plant produces hundreds of tiny seeds which are dispersed all around them, making sure that these plants don’t die easily. They are tolerant of drought, extreme sunlight or shade, poor soil conditions, pollution, salinity and almost all adverse conditions.

The leaves and flowers are edible with a slightly tangy taste. They can be eaten raw, or added to salads and as garnishing. They are rich in Vitamin C and can be used for making tea as well. But they contain oxalic acid which can affect calcium absorption in the body, and hence should not be consumed in large quantities.

Creeping woodsorrel plants have some medicinal properties, and is used in treatment of fever, diarrhea, urinary tract infections, influenza, injuries, snake bites, swellings, boils, pimples, insect bits, burns and skin infections.

Propagation is through seeds and stem cuttings.