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Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs


Three weeds belong to the Oxalis Family: creeping wood-sorrel, European wood-sorrel and common yellow wood-sorrel.

Scientific Names: Creeping wood-sorrel, Oxalis corniculata L.; Common yellow wood-sorrel, Oxalis dillenii Jacq.; European wood-sorrel, Oxalis stricta L.

Other Names

Creeping Common yellow European
  • Oxalide cornue
  • Oxalis
  • Sour-clover
  • Oxalis corniculé
  • Oxalide de Dillenius
  • Oxalis
  • Sour-clover
  • Oxalis stricta misapplied
  • Oxalide d’Europe
  • Oxalis
  • Sour-clover
  • Oxalide dressée
  • Pain d’oiseau
  • Oxalis europaea Jord.

Family: Legume or Bean Family (Leguminosae)

General Description: All are low-growing perennials.

Habitat: All three are occasional weeds in lawns, gardens and waste areas throughout Ontario.


  • Seedling with stem
  • Leaves alternate (1 per node)
  • Cotyledons are oblong with some fine, short-lived hairs on the margins


Creeping Common yellow European
  • Rarely as much as 40- 50 cm (16- 20 in.) high
  • Longer trailing stems
  • These stems rooting where they touch the ground
  • Rarely as much as 40- 50 cm (16- 20 in.) high
  • Stems lack the long hair
  • Rarely as much as 40- 50 cm (16- 20 in.) high
  • Stems have sparse to abundant long hairs


Creeping Common yellow European
  • Purplish-green
  • Each leaf compound
  • Consisting of 3 heart-shaped leaflet attached by their pointed ends to the tip of the usually erect petiole
  • Either hanging down or standing out horizontally in 3 directions
  • Somewhat greyish-green because of very short, closely appressed hairs
  • Similar to creeping
  • Bright green
  • Similar to creeping


Creeping Common yellow European
  • Bright yellow
  • 4- 10 mm (1/6- 2/5 in.) across
  • 5 uniformly shaped petals
  • 10- 15 stamens
  • Seedpods:
    • 1- 2.5 cm (2/5- 1 in.) across
    • Slender
    • Each with several seeds
  • Similar to creeping but after the flowering, the stalks of its seedpods bend at the nodes and become more or less zig-zagged so they resemble the letters “N” or “Z”
  • Similar to creeping but mature flowers and seedpods are borne on straight (not zigzagged) stalks

Often Confused With
Black Medick (They are distinguished from Black medick by their leaflets being heart-shaped, the absence of a distinct stalk for one of the three leaflet, their yellow flowers having 5 uniformly shaped petals, and their long, narrow seedpods containing several seeds)
Buttercups (Wood-sorrels’ growth is less upright and its flowers aren’t as large or showy)


Wood-sorrel Common yellow wood-sorrelWood-sorrel Wood-sorrel Wood-sorrel
Click to enlarge.