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Permies likes plants and the farmer likes I just had the funniest memory. Can anyone help me identify the plant? permies
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I just had the funniest memory. Can anyone help me identify the plant?


Joined: Dec 26, 2010
Posts: 9
When I was very young, maybe 4-5, I lived in a town just outside Boston, MA. I don't have a lot of memories from that age, but I just had one pop into my head. There was a plant that I often found growing in the yard, and in between flagstones, that I liked to pick and eat. I want to say that it was a type of clover, because of the leaves, but it wasn't the short kind with the pompom flowers and dark green leaves. It was taller, leggier, and more of a lime green. It seemed to grow in small bunches, rather than covering a patch. I can't remember if it had any flowers. All I remembered is that it had this really pleasantly powerful, tangy taste to it.

This memory is hilarious because I'm 100% certain that I was never told that this plant was safe to eat. I remember, now, that I used to eat plants when no one was looking.

I tried dandelion leaves, but I thought they were bitter and gross.

I'm 29 now, so I think I'm okay. 

Joined: Jan 03, 2011
Posts: 25
Sound like oxalis to me, some call it sorrel; it has a history of being eaten by others, you might be comforted to know. 

Oh hi everyone, noobie here, first post, enjoying the place!

Joined: Dec 26, 2010
Posts: 9
Yes! I think you are correct. I looked up Oxalis in Wikipedia, and it mentioned that some varieties are called 'wood sorrels'. I typed that into google image search, and got some photos that look exactly like the plant I'm remembering from my childhood:

I can't say for sure that this is the variety that I ate, but it looks pretty darn close. I'm glad to hear that I'm not the only one to eat these. For some reason, it cracks me up to think of how I was 4-years-old, probably just putting random things in my mouth, as kids tend to do, and I just happened to discover this little acidic herb. I probably haven't thought about this in over 20 years, and the memory of it just popped into my head. I wonder if I can grow it here in Utah (for nostalgic reasons).

Welcome to the forum!

Joined: Jan 03, 2011
Posts: 25
Hey, thanks for the welcome.  My earliest memory of eating stuff like that, I ate a handful of dirt.  I can still remember that it tasted good.  haha..

My first encounters with Oxalis were in gardening areas (California, SF and Monterey Bay areas) where it is considered a weed -- well, it is hard to get rid of if you wanted to do that, and it does show up every dang where! but then in summer (dry season) it dies off and so..... I never felt it was all that much of a problem.

I think in the book Heidi (remember that?) a kid who is  hungry eats sorrel to try to fill up, i remember reading that when I was  kid and wondering what sorrel was.

now I think it gets put in salads in high end restaurants.

friend of mine once did a school project on Oxalis.  There are something like 287 varieties. 

all I know about that one. 

Joined: Dec 26, 2010
Posts: 9
Hah. How lucky am I? I had this question pop into my head, and just a few moments later, a sorrel expert joins the board!

Joined: Jan 03, 2011
Posts: 25
Jordan Lowery

Joined: Sep 26, 2009
Posts: 1528
Location: zone 7
funny story as well, back when i was in elementary school. we walked to school because it was only 3 blocks away. well on the way there was this yard that was full of oxalis, somehow just like you. no one told us it was ok to eat, yet somehow we just knew. we would pick the bloom stems and chew on them releasing the sweet/sour juice inside.

The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings. - Masanobu Fukuoka

Joined: Dec 01, 2010
Posts: 158
Location: Abilene, KS
My mother would eat bits of it, she said it tasted like sauerkraut to her.  I tried it, also. I have heard that horses love the stuff, too.

Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.

Joined: Jul 12, 2010
Posts: 123
This makes me smile.  Wood Sorrel grows native around here and volunteers in our garden.  My daughter (2 yrs) loves to pick wood sorrel and share it with people.  Ours makes little light purple flowers.

Joined: Aug 05, 2010
Posts: 7
That is so cool Knarf!

I used to eat that exact same plant as a kid too! Also without permission and also without apparent harm. 

I always called it "clover" but I guess regular clover is shorter and what I ate was the one with the long stem like you showed.
Kirk Hutchison

Joined: Feb 05, 2010
Posts: 418
Location: Los Angeles, CA
When I was little I used to suck the nectar out of bougainvillea flowers. The internet tells me that the sap is mildly toxic, but apparently the nectar is fine

Paleo Gardener Blog

Joined: Jan 01, 2010
Posts: 172
Location: Amsterdam, the netherlands
There are something like 287 varieties.
Yep, lots of nice ones with lower acidic rates are available, and they look pretty too. here you will often find it in ornamental gardens.

we grow oca, oxalis tuberosa, together with mashua, tropaeolum tuberosum, and potatoes.

oca and mashua are tubers from the Andes and have been grown together with potatoes for generations in the andes.

oca and mashua are great raw or cooked, a good addition to your staples if they are suited for your zone.

land and liberty at s.w.o.m.p.
subject: I just had the funniest memory. Can anyone help me identify the plant?