Creeping Wood Sorrel facts and benefits

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Creeping Wood Sorrel facts and benefits

Creeping Wood Sorrel Quick Facts
Name: Creeping Wood Sorrel
Scientific Name: Oxalis corniculata
Origin Hawaii and south Europe
Colors Green
Shapes Capsules, hairy, tomentose, sub cylindric, 1 to 1.8 centimeters long, divided into minute segments
Taste Astringent, Sour
Health benefits Beneficial for influenza, fever, enteritis, diarrhea, traumatic injuries, scurvy, sprains, hemorrhages, urinary disorders and poisonous snake bites.
Oxalis corniculata also known as creeping wood sorrel, procumbent yellow-sorrel or sleeping beauty is a species of perennial, flowering, low-growing, herbaceous plant in genus Oxalis and Oxalidaceae family. The plant resembles the common yellow wood sorrel, Oxalis stricta. The plant is native to the hillsides, in gardens, grassland, agricultural fields and lawns in temperate and subtropical regions across Asia, Europe and North America. Other popular common names of the plant are Yellow wood-sorrel, Creeping oxalis, Creeping lady’s sorrel, Ihi, Sour-grass wood-sorrel, Yellow oxalis, Creeping ladies’-sorrel, Creeping yellow wood-sorrel, Yellow procumbent wood-sorrel, Creeping sorrel, creeping woods, Inda, Indian Sorrel, Jimson Weed, clover sorrel, sheep sorrel, sour grass and wood sorrel. Although the plant is considered as a weed in gardens, agricultural fields, and lawns in different countries, it is traditionally used in Chinese medicine (CTM) and extensively used in treating various diseases and health problems.

Plant description

Creeping Wood Sorrel is a delicate-appearing, low-growing, herbaceous plant that grows about 30 cm tall. The plant is found growing in lawns, grassland, gardens, and agricultural fields, mulched areas around shrubbery, plant nurseries, and greenhouses. The plant prefers moist well-drained soil. Roots are slender, branched, and fibrous and are covered with small hairs. Stem is prostrate to sub erect about 40 cm long, slender, weak, branched, often rooting at nodes, covered with spreading flexible hairs.


The plant has smooth, palmately compound leaves that are divided into three heart-shaped leaflets, each leaflet having a center crease, from which the leaflets fold upward in half. The leaves are most often bright green above, and purplish to dark red on their under surface, especially at the base. Creeping Wood sorrel folds its leaves up at night and opens them again in the morning. It also folds its leaves when under stress, such as when growing in direct sun.

Flower & Fruit

Creeping wood sorrel flower is yellow colored having five petals and it is about 1 to 1.5 cm wide. The flower has ten stamens and an erect, pencil-like pistil. It can be found blooming from May to October. As the flowers disappear, its stalk bends towards the ground and conceals the seed capsule (Fruit).  Capsules are hairy, tomentose, sub cylindric, 1 to 1.8 centimeters long, divided into minute segments with numerous black seeds. Seeds are about 1.3- 1.7 cm long, rough, egg shaped, broad-ellipsoid, dark purplish brown. The capsule is elastic and bursts open when the fruit is ripe, throwing the seeds out several yards.

Chemical Constituents

Major chemical compound present in this herb is oxalic acid and vitamin-C. This herb is also rich in water, fat, proteins, calcium, phosphorous, iron, niacin and beta carotene. Other chemical compounds available in this herb are flavonoids, phytosterol, phenol, tannins, fatty acids and volatile oils. Leaves are rich in flavonoids, isovitexine, and vitexine. It contains various essential fatty acids like linoleic acid, linolenic acid, oleic acid, palmitic acid and stearic acid. Stem is rich in tartaric, malic acid and citric acid.

Traditional uses and benefits of Creeping Wood Sorrel

  • Whole plant is anthelmintic, anti-phlogistic, astringent, depurative, diuretic, emenagogue, febrifuge, lithontripic, stomachic and styptic.
  • The plant is used in the treatment of influenza, fever, urinary tract infections, enteritis, diarrhea, traumatic injuries, sprains and poisonous snake bites.
  • Juice of the plant, mixed with butter, is applied to muscular swellings, boils and pimples.
  • An infusion is used as a wash to rid children of hookworms.
  • Plant is a good source of vitamin C and is used as an antiscorbutic in the treatment of scurvy.
  • Leaf juice is applied to insect bites, burns and skin eruptions.
  • Decoctions of Wood Sorrel herb are used to relieve hemorrhages and urinary disorders, as a blood cleanser, and will strengthen a weak stomach, produce an appetite, and check vomiting.
  • Wood Sorrel juice is used as a gargle and is a remedy for ulcers in the mouth.
  • Linen cloths soaked with the juice and applied, are held to be effective in the reduction of swellings and inflammation.
  • Paste of leaves is used as antidote for the poisoning caused by snake bites, seeds of Datura, mercury and arsenic.
  • Leaf extract or juice is used for treating burns, insect bites and various skin eruptions. It is also beneficial for various skin disorders like warts, corns, inflammation and boils. Leaf juice is mixed with onion extract to remove warts.
  • Infusion of leaves is used to cure irritation of eyes and opacity of cornea.
  • Leaf juice of this herb is used in the treatment of jaundice and it is very effective to cure symptom of diabetes i.e. poly-hydra.
  • Leaves mixed with onion and salt is used for stomachaches and juice used for coughs in Java.
  • Leaves are used ritually for stomachaches in Nepal.
  • Equal amount of Leaf juice and onion juice when applied over the head is beneficial for headache.
  • Juice of Creeping Wood Sorrel is beneficial for earache and other ear related disorders.
  • Chewing the leaves is beneficial for mouth odor.
  • Powder prepared from dried leaves is beneficial for all tooth related problems.
  • 20-40 ml leaf decoction along with fried asafoetida is beneficial for stomach disorders.
  • 2-5 ml leaf juice when consumed is beneficial for diarrhea.
  • Decoction obtained from boiling leaf and milk, when consumed 2-3 times a day is effective for Diarrhea.
  • 5-10 ml Juice of Creeping wood sorrel is effective for indigestion.
  • Paste prepared from 8-10 leaves is effective for digestion.
  • Paste prepared from leaves and Jaggery when consumed is beneficial for urinary problems and fever.
  • 5-10 ml leaves juice when taken 2-3 times a day is beneficial for bleeding disorders.
  • Paste prepared from 10-15 leaves along with water when tied over swelling helps to reduce swelling and related pain.

Ayurvedic Health benefits of Creeping Wood Sorrel

  • Abscess: Make a poultice of Indian Sorrel leaves. Apply on the affected part twice a day. OR Grind fresh leaves. Add little hot water. Apply paste twice a day.
  • Diarrhea: Take one Indian Sorrel leaf. Boil it in buttermilk. Have it once a day.
  • Indigestion: Powder the dried leaves. Boil two tsp in a cup of buttermilk. Take once a day.
  • Dysentery: Grind some leaves. Boil two tsp in a cup of buttermilk and eat daily. OR take two tsp leaf juice. Add one tsp honey. Have once a day.
  • Fever: Squeeze out the juice of fresh Indian Sorrel leaves. Take two tsp juice with lukewarm water daily. OR Soak 3 to 4 leaves of Indian Sorrel in a glass of water overnight. In the morning take out leaves and drink the water.
  • Vaginal Discharge: Prepare leaf infusion. Use it to clean vagina daily.
  • Jaundice: Mix two tsp leaf extract in a cup of buttermilk. Take once a day.
  • Acne: Grind the leaves of this herb with warm water. Apply on the affected part once a day.
  • Swelling: Take one tsp Indian Sorrel root decoction twice a day. OR Crush some leaves. Apply on the affected part twice a day.
  • Earache: Take out the juice of Indian Sorrel seeds. Drip 2-2 drops in each ear once a day.
  • Scanty Menses: Prepare a decoction of Indian Sorrel roots. Take 2 to 4 tsp with cooked rice once a day.
  • Coolant: Crush the leaves of Indian Sorrel to make a paste. Apply it over inflamed skin.
  • Abdominal diseases: Consume leaves of Indian Sorrel either in raw or cooked form.
  • Headache: Grind Indian Sorrel leaves to make a paste. Apply it on your forehead.
  • Stomach problems: Boil few leaves of Indian Sorrel in water. Drink 5 ml of it twice a day.
  • Inflammation: Warm the leaves of Indian Sorrel. Use it as poultice over inflamed areas.
  • Eyes: Crush leaves of Indian Sorrel to make paste. Strain and extract its juice. Use it as an eye drop.
  • Insomnia: Massage your head with Indian sorrel oil at night. It induces sleep.
  • Scurvy: Make an infusion of Indian Sorrel leaves. Drink 30 ml once a day.
  • Enteritis: Boil leaves of Indian sorrel with buttermilk. Drink 40 ml twice a day.
  • Dipsia: Extract leaves juice of Indian Sorrel. Take 1 tsp of it with buttermilk.
  • Skin Diseases: Locally apply Indian Sorrel leaves over infected or damaged skin.
  • Biliousness: Add half tsp black pepper powder in 2 tsp leaf juice of Indian Sorrel. Apply the mixture over red spots over skins that are caused due to Biliousness.
  • Wounds: Grind Indian Sorrel plant and apply the paste on the wounds.
  • External Bleeding: Make a leaf paste and apply on the affected parts.
  • Sinusitis: Dilute the leaf juice of Indian sorrel with half of water and put 2-3 drops in each nostril.
  • Heavy Menstrual Bleeding: Mix some honey in Indian Sorrel leaf juice and take.
  • Piles: Take half tbsp powdered leaves twice a day.
  • Insomnia: Take equal amount of Indian Sorrel leaf extract and castor oil. Mix them well. Heat it to remove moisture. Cool. Apply it on scalp at night daily.
  • Warts: Take equal amount of Indian Sorrel leaf extract and onion juice. Mix them. Apply on the affected part once a day.
  • Wrinkles: Make a soft paste of sandalwood powder with Indian Sorrel leaf juice. Massage your face with this twice a week.
  • Gum Diseases: Mix some powdered alum in Indian Sorrel leaf juice. Gargle with this mixture 2-3 times a day.

Culinary Uses

  • Leaves of wood sorrel are quite edible, with a tangy taste of lemons.
  • Drink can be made by infusing the leaves in hot water for about 10 minutes, sweetening and then chilling.
  • Leaves can be added to salads, cooked as a potherb with other milder flavored greens or used to give a sour flavor to other foods.
  • Flowers can be a pleasant addition to the salad bowl.
  • Wood sorrel tea when cooled can make a refreshing beverage especially when sweetened with honey.

Other Facts

  • Slimy substance collects in the mouth when the leaves are chewed; this is used by magicians to protect the mouth when they eat glass.
  • Yellow, orange and red to brown dyes are obtained from the flowers.
  • Boiled whole plant yields a yellow dye.


  • Any wood sorrel is safe in low dosages, but if eaten in large quantities over a length of time can inhibit calcium absorption by the body.
  • Leaves should not be eaten in large amounts since oxalic acid can bind up the body’s supply of calcium leading to nutritional deficiency.
  • As the Indian sorrel (Oxalic Corniculata) contains high concentration of oxalic acid, persons suffering from gout, rheumatism and calculi or stone in the urinary tract should avoid the use of this herb.






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