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Oxalis – Pink Wood Sorrel – Not native. Not to worry.

The name pink wood sorrel just sounds so woodsy and native. We can be forgiven for thinking it must be native to somewhere in the United States.

Pink wood sorrel is not native. It is from Japan. Oxalis crassipes rosea has sterile flowers. If there is a plant guaranteed not to take over your favorite ecosystem, this is it. It cannot reproduce through seed.

Wood sorrel is such a non-aggressive little plant that I doubt it could take over even if it had aspirations to do so. Butterflies like it.

Oxalis crassipes rosea
Pink wood sorrel’s flowers are small – 1/2″ or so across.

Pink wood sorrel would be very attractive planted with a white low-growing perennial. The dwarf crested iris ‘Tennessee White’ comes to mind…or maybe that foam flower my mother was so fond of.

It grows in low mounds 6″-12″ high and the flowers are held aloft delicate stems a few more inches still. Oxalis is an unassuming plant, and I would either plant it in drifts (with an outlier here and there) or find places where it seems to have sprung up on its own, next to an old wood fence perhaps.

Pink wood sorrel, also known as oxalis strawberry, is at its best in woodland gardens.

It’s habit suits a woodland habitat, but any spot in the garden with partial shade will do. It will bloom from spring through fall in consistently moist soils (so every garden resource on the web will tell you, and I happen to agree). If you do not have consistently moist soils pink wood sorrel may go dormant in summer. It will return in fall as temperatures cool.

The leaves close at night.

pink wood sorrel
Pink wood sorrel

It is winter hardy zones 5-9 and can tolerate poorer soils. Morning sun is fine. Keep the afternoon sun off it if you live in the South. People can debate whether pink wood sorrel can handle full sun if they want. If you want to provide the best conditions possible, then afternoon shade is nice.

They say deer won’t eat it but I cannot confirm. We just don’t have many deer trotting through the city or I could report more assuredly.

Water needs are minimal once established…I surely wouldn’t be outside watering the pink wood sorrel after the first season. Sometimes a more cavalier attitude to gardening is what we need.

Oxalis crassipes rosea
Pink wood sorrel’s 3-lobed leaf structure can be seen here.

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