Oxalis corniculata L.

creeping yellow wood sorrel

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New England Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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North America Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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Facts About

Creeping yellow wood sorrel is a non-native wood sorrel that is fairly common in New England around disturbed areas. It is one of several ubiquitous yellow-flowered species with leafy stems. Its trailing stems tend to root at the nodes, and there are small, squarish stipules next to the leaves. The fruits also have tiny hairs that are divided by transverse septa (these are best seen with magnification).

Habitat

Anthropogenic (man-made or disturbed habitats), meadows and fields

Characteristics

Habitat
terrestrial
New England state
  • Connecticut
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • New Hampshire
  • Vermont
Flower petal color
yellow
Leaf type
the leaves are compound (made up of two or more discrete leaflets
Leaf arrangement
  • alternate: there is one leaf per node along the stem
  • whorled: there are three or more leaves per node along the stem
Leaf blade edges
the edge of the leaf blade is entire (has no teeth or lobes)
Flower symmetry
there are two or more ways to evenly divide the flower (the flower is radially symmetrical)
Number of sepals, petals or tepals
there are five petals, sepals, or tepals in the flower
Fusion of sepals and petals
  • both the petals and sepals are separate and not fused
  • the petals or the sepals are fused into a cup or tube
Stamen number
10
Fruit type (general)
the fruit is dry and splits open when ripe
Fruit length
8–25 mm
Show All Characteristics
  • Clonal plantlets
    Bulbils
    the plant does not appear to have bulbils
    Bulblets replace flowers
    there are no bulblets where the flowers are located
  • Flowers
    Anther attachment
    the anther is attached by its base to the filament
    Anther color
    the anthers show no hint of a pink, reddish or purplish tint
    Anther opening
    the anthers have narrow slits or furrows that run lengthwise along the anthers
    Anther spurs
    the anthers do not have spurs on them
    Anther tube length
    0 mm
    Calyx growth after flowering
    the calyx does not grow to cover or partially cover the fruit
    Calyx symmetry
    there are two or more ways to evenly divide the calyx (the calyx is radially symmetrical)
    Carpels fused
    the carpels are fused to one another
    Cilia on petals
    the petal margins do not have cilia
    Cleistogamous flowers
    there are no cleistogamous flowers on the plan
    Corolla morphology
    the tube of the flower is curved upwards
    Corolla palate
    no
    Corona lobe length
    0 mm
    Epicalyx
    the flower does not have an epicalyx
    Epicalyx number of parts
    0
    Filament surface
    the filament is smooth, with no hairs or scales
    Flower description
    the flower has a superior ovary, and lacks a hypanthium
    Flower length
    4–8 mm
    Flower number
    1–6
    Flower orientation
    the flower points upwards or is angled outwards
    Flower petal color
    yellow
    Flower reproductive parts
    the flower has both pollen- and seed-producing parts
    Flower symmetry
    there are two or more ways to evenly divide the flower (the flower is radially symmetrical)
    Flowers sunken into stem
    no
    Form of style
    • the flower has two or more completely separate styles
    • the style is knob-like at the tip, and unbranched
    Fringed petal edges
    the petals are not fringed
    Fused stamen clusters
    there are two clusters of fused stamens
    Fusion of sepals and petals
    • both the petals and sepals are separate and not fused
    • the petals or the sepals are fused into a cup or tube
    Hairs on flower stalk
    the flower stalk has hairs on it
    Horns in hoods (Asclepias)
    NA
    Hypanthium
    the flower does not have a hypanthium
    Hypanthium length
    0 mm
    Inflorescence one-sided
    the flowers are arrayed in a spiral around the inflorescence axis or branches, or occur singly, or in several ranks
    Inner tepals (Rumex)
    NA
    Interior flower disk
    the flower does not have an interior disc
    Length of flower stalk
    4–20 mm
    Marks on petals
    there are no noticeable marks on the petals
    Nectar spur
    the flower has no nectar spurs
    Number of branches in umbel
    0
    Number of carpels
    5
    Number of pistils
    1
    Number of sepals, petals or tepals
    there are five petals, sepals, or tepals in the flower
    Number of styles
    5
    Ovary position
    the ovary is above the point of petal and/or sepal attachment
    Perianth shape
    • the perianth is campanulate (bell-shaped, with a tube about as long as wide, flaring at the mouth)
    • the perianth is rotate (platter-shaped, the corolla flattened, circular, with nearly horizontally spreading lobes)
    Petal and sepal arrangement
    the flower includes two cycles of petal- or sepal-like structures
    Petal and sepal colors
    yellow
    Petal appearance
    the petals are thin and delicate, and pigmented (colored other than green or brown)
    Petal base
    the petal narrows abruptly at the base
    Petal folding in bud
    the petals in bud are rolled like an umbrella, each petal having one edge tucked inside and the other edge exposed (convolute)
    Petal folds or pleats
    the petals of the flower do not have folds or plaits
    Petal glandular dots or scales
    no
    Petal hairs (Viola)
    NA
    Petal hairs on inner/upper surface
    there are no hairs on the inner/upper petal surface
    Petal length
    4–7 mm
    Petal length relative to sepals
    the petals are longer than the sepals
    Petal nectaries
    the petals do not have nectaries
    Petal number
    5
    Petal shape
    • the petal outline is oblong (rectangular, but with rounded ends)
    • the petal outline is obovate (roughly egg-shaped, but with the widest point above the middle of the leaf blade)
    Petal tip shape
    • the petal tip is retuse (with a blunt or rounded apex and a notch at the center)
    • the petal tip is rounded
    Petal tips (Cuscuta)
    NA
    Petal width
    3–4 mm
    Raceme attachment (Veronica)
    NA
    Reproductive system
    all the flowers have both carpels and stamens (synoecious)
    Scales inside corolla
    no
    Sepal and petal color
    the sepals are different from the petals
    Sepal appearance
    the sepals are green or brown, and leaf-like in texture
    Sepal appendages
    the sepals do not have appendages on them
    Sepal appendages (Oenothera)
    NA
    Sepal auricles
    the sepals have no auricles
    Sepal cilia
    the sepals have cilia on their edges
    Sepal color
    green to brown
    Sepal features
    NA
    Sepal length
    3.5–5 mm
    Sepal number
    5
    Sepal orientation
    the sepals are pressed against the corolla, or jutting stiffly upward
    Sepal relative length
    NA
    Sepal shape
    • the sepal outline is lanceolate (lance-shaped; narrow, gradually tapering from the base to the tip)
    • the sepal outline is oblong (rectangular, but with rounded ends)
    Sepal texture
    the sepals are either very thin but flexible, like a membrane, or they are leaf-like in texture
    Sepal tip shape
    the sepal tip is acute (is sharply pointed)
    Sepal uniformity
    all the sepals are about the same size
    Sepals fused only to sepals
    the sepals are separate from one another
    Spur length
    0 mm
    Spur number
    NA
    Stamen appendages
    stamen appendages are absent
    Stamen attachment
    • the stamens are not attached to the petals or tepals
    • the stamens are not attached to the petals or tepals
    Stamen lengths differ
    the stamens are didynamous (two long stamens and two short ones)
    Stamen morphology
    the stamens within a cycle differ in length or width
    Stamen number
    10
    Stamen position relative to petals
    NA
    Stamen relative length
    anything
    Stamens fused
    • the stamens are attached to one another at or near their bases
    • the stamens are not attached to one another
    Staminodes
    there are no staminodes on the flower
    Stigma position
    the stigmas are positioned at the tip of the style
    Style petal-like
    the styles are not petal-like
    Style relative length
    the stigma does not protrude beyond the mouth of the corolla
    Umbel flower reproductive parts
    NA
    Upper lip of bilabiate corolla
    NA
  • Fruits or seeds
    Achene relative orientation
    NA
    Achene shape
    NA
    Achene surface (Polygonum)
    NA
    Achene type
    NA
    Berry color
    NA
    Capsule color (Viola)
    NA
    Capsule ribs
    the capsule has five prominent ribs or wings
    Capsule splitting
    the capsule splits by five main valves, teeth or pores
    Fruit (pyxis) dehiscence
    NA
    Fruit beak length
    0 mm
    Fruit cross-section
    the fruit is pentagonal in cross-section
    Fruit features (Brassicaceae)
    NA
    Fruit length
    8–25 mm
    Fruit length relative to sepals
    the fruit is longer than its associated sepals
    Fruit length to width ratio
    4–8.3
    Fruit locules
    five
    Fruit shape
    the fruit is roughly cylindrical (with parallel sides that do not taper, and flat across the top and bottom)
    Fruit stalk orientation
    the fruits curve or droop downwards
    Fruit type (general)
    the fruit is dry and splits open when ripe
    Fruit type (specific)
    the fruit is a capsule (splits along two or more seams, apical teeth or pores when dry, to release two or more seeds)
    Fruit width
    2–3 mm
    Hair type on fruit
    the hairs on the fruits are simple (not branched), don’t have glands, and are not woolly
    Hairs on fruit
    the fruits have hairs on them
    Legumes (Fabaceae)
    NA
    Mericarp length
    0 mm
    Mericarp segment shape (Desmodium)
    NA
    Other markings on berry
    NA
    Ovary stipe
    the ovary or fruit does not have a stipe
    Ovary stipe length
    0 mm
    Placenta arrangement
    the plant has axile placentation, in which the ovules are attached where the septa of a compound ovary are united, usually on the central axis, or to the septa themselves
    Rows of seeds in fruit (Brassicaceae)
    NA
    Schizocarpic fruit compression
    NA
    Schizocarpic fruit segments
    0
    Seed length
    1–1.5 mm
    Seed number
    25–70
    Seed relative length
    the seed is longer than it is wide
    Seed surface
    the seed has parallel ridges on it (ribbed)
    Seeds comose
    no hairs
    Septum in fruit (Brassicaceae)
    NA
    Wings on fruit
    the fruit does not have wings on it
    prickles on fruits
    the fruits do not have thorn-like defensive structures
  • Glands or sap
    Glands on leaf blade
    the leaf blades do not have glandular dots or scales
    Sap
    the sap is clear and watery
    Sap color
    the sap is clear
  • Growth form
    Growth form
    the plant is an herb (it has self-supporting stems)
    Horizontal rooting stem
    the plant does not have stolons
    Lifespan
    • the plant lives more than two years
    • the plant lives only a single year or less
    Parasitism
    the plant is not parasitic
    Plant color
    the leaves or young stems of the plant are green
    Plants darken when dry
    no
    Spines on plant
    the plant has no spines
    Underground organs
    there is a thickened taproot on the plant
  • Leaves
    Bracteole number (Apiaceae)
    0
    Bracts in plantain (Plantago)
    NA
    Floral bracts
    the flower has one or more bracts associated with it
    Flower bract length
    2–4 mm
    Hairs on leaf stalk
    the petiole has hairs on it
    Hairs on underside of leaf
    • the underside of the leaf is fuzzy or hairy
    • the underside of the leaf is not hairy, or it has very few hairs
    Hairs on upper side of leaf
    • the upper side of the leaf is fuzzy or hairy
    • the upper side of the leaf is not hairy, or it has very few hairs
    Hooked hairs on underside of leaf
    no
    Inflated hairs on leaf
    the leaf blade does not have inflated hairs on it
    Leaf arrangement
    • alternate: there is one leaf per node along the stem
    • whorled: there are three or more leaves per node along the stem
    Leaf blade base
    the leaf has a distinct leaf stalk (petiole)
    Leaf blade base shape
    the base of the leaf blade is cuneate (wedge-shaped, tapers to the base with relatively straight, converging edges), or narrow
    Leaf blade base symmetry
    the leaf blade base is symmetrical
    Leaf blade bloom
    the underside of the leaf has no noticeable bloom
    Leaf blade edges
    the edge of the leaf blade is entire (has no teeth or lobes)
    Leaf blade flatness
    the leaf is flat (planar) at the edges
    Leaf blade hairs
    the leaf blade has simple hairs with no glands, and not tangled or wooly
    Leaf blade length
    5–18 mm
    Leaf blade primary vein pattern
    the secondary veins branch off at intervals from the primary vein
    Leaf blade shape
    • the leaf blade is cordate (heart-shaped with backward-facing rounded lobes), or sagittate (arrow-shaped with backward-facing pointed lobes)
    • the leaf blade is obovate (egg-shaped, but with the widest point above the middle of the leaf blade)
    Leaf blade surface colors
    the upper side of the leaf blade is relatively uniform in color
    Leaf blade texture
    the leaf blade is herbaceous (has a leafy texture)
    Leaf blade vein pattern
    the major veins of the leaf blade branch, but do not rejoin
    Leaf blade veins
    the leaf blade has one main vein running from the base towards the tip (it may or may not have secondary veins)
    Leaf blade width
    8–23 mm
    Leaf duration
    the leaves drop off in winter (or they whither but persist on the plant)
    Leaf form
    the leaves are green, with an expanded blade and a leaf-like texture
    Leaf hair orientation
    • NA
    • the hairs are flat against the leaf surface, mostly pointing towards the leaf tip
    Leaf sheath length
    0 mm
    Leaf shiny
    the upper side of the leaf is dull or slightly shiny
    Leaf spines
    there are no spines on the leaf edges
    Leaf stalk
    the leaves have leaf stalks
    Leaf stalk attachment to leaf
    the petiole attaches at the basal margin of the leaf blade
    Leaf stalk base
    the petiole base is narrow where it attaches to the stem
    Leaf stalk length
    10–130 mm
    Leaf teeth and lobes
    the edge of the leaf blade is entire (has no teeth or lobes)
    Leaf tip
    the tip of the leaf blade is retuse (blunt or rounded, with a notch at the tip)
    Leaf tufts in axils
    there are no clusters of smaller leaves growing out of axils
    Leaf type
    the leaves are compound (made up of two or more discrete leaflets
    Leaf types
    NA
    Leaf variation
    • the leaves are nearly similar in size, prominence of teeth, and length of stalks throughout the stem
    • the lower leaves are larger, toothier, and/or on longer stalks than the upper leaves
    Leaflet number
    3
    Leaflet petiolules
    the leaflets of the compound leaf lack petiolules
    Leaves per node
    there is one leaf per node along the stem
    Specific leaf type
    the leaf has lobes that radiate from the base, somewhat like a hand
    Stipels
    the petiolules have stipels at their bases
    Stipule edges
    the stipule margins do not have teeth
    Stipule features
    NA
    Stipule shape
    the stipules are another shape than the choices given
    Stipules
    the plant has stipules
    Teeth per side of leaf blade
    0
  • Place
    Habitat
    terrestrial
    New England state
    • Connecticut
    • Maine
    • Massachusetts
    • New Hampshire
    • Vermont
    Specific habitat
    • man-made or disturbed habitats
    • meadows or fields
  • Scent
    Plant odor
    the plant does not have much of a smell
  • Stem, shoot, branch
    Branched tendrils
    NA
    Direction of stem hairs
    • the hairs are pressed flat against the plant, pointing towards the plant's tip
    • the hairs point downwards, or they bend outwards and then downwards
    • the hairs point mostly upwards to outwards
    Flowering stem cross-section
    the flowering stem is circular, or with lots of small angles so that it is roughly circular
    Hair between stem nodes
    the stem has hairs between the nodes
    Hairs between stem nodes
    the hairs on the stem are plain, without glands or branches, and not tangled
    Hooked hairs on stem between nodes
    no
    Leaves on stem
    there is at least one full leaf above the base of the flowering stem
    Plant height
    Up to 50 cm
    Stem bloom
    there is no powdery or waxy film on the stem
    Stem hair distribution
    the hairs on the stem are distributed more of less uniformly
    Stem nodes swollen
    the stem is not swollen at the nodes
    Stem orientation
    the stems trail at the base, but may turn upwards at the tips
    Stem roughness between nodes
    the stem does not feel rough
    Stem spacing
    the plant is growing in tufts, or compact clusters with closely spaced stems, or it is densely matted together in clumps, cushionlike
    Stem succulence
    the stems are not succulent
    Tendril origin
    NA
    Tendrils
    the plant does not have tendrils
    Wings on stem
    the stem does not have wings on it

Wetland Status

Usually occurs in non-wetlands, but occasionally in wetlands. (Wetland indicator code: FACU)

New England Distribution and Conservation Status

Distribution

Connecticut
present
Maine
present
Massachusetts
present
New Hampshire
present
Rhode Island
absent
Vermont
present

Conservation Status

Exact status definitions can vary from state to state. For details, please check with your state.

Massachusetts
unranked (S-rank: SNR)

Native to North America?

No

Sometimes Confused With

Oxalis dillenii:
stems moderately to densely appressed-pubescent with hairs that are pointed at the apex but not drawn out into long, fine, tips, and ridges of seeds with prominent gray-white to white summits (vs. O. corniculata, with stems nearly glabrous to moderately pubescent with mostly ascending to spreading hairs that are usually drawn out into a long, fine, tip, and ridges of seeds brown at the summits or rarely with faint gray coloration).
Oxalis florida:
stipules very reduced,without distinct margins, appearing as a small, semicircular swelling in the axil of the petiole, capsule glabrous or sparsely pubescent apically or along ridges with appressed hairs, lacking septate hairs (vs. O. corniculata, with stipules relatively well developed, though still small, with distinct margins, rectangular, and capsule commonly retrosely pubescent throughout, sometimes with intermixed, spreading septate hairs).

Synonyms

  • Acetosella corniculata (L.) Kuntze
  • Oxalis corniculata L. var. langloisii (Small) Wieg.
  • Oxalis langloisii (Small) Fedde
  • Oxalis repens Thunb.
  • Xanthoxalis corniculata (L.) Small
  • Xanthoxalis langloisii Small
  • Xanthoxalis repens (Thunb.) Moldenke

Family

Oxalidaceae

Genus

Oxalis

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Information from Dichotomous Key of Flora Novae Angliae

1.  Oxalis corniculata L. E

creeping yellow wood sorrel. Acetosella corniculata (L.) Kuntze; Oxalis corniculata L. var. langloisii (Small) Wieg.; O. langloisii (Small) Fedde; O. repens Thunb.; Xanthoxalis corniculata (L.) Small; X. langloisii Small; X. repens (Thunb.) Moldenke • CT, MA, ME, NH, VT; also reported from RI by George (1992), but specimens are unknown. Lawns, fields, gardens, nurseries, railroads, areas of habitation.