|The Herb Farm|
|Oxalis, Pretty and You Can Eat It|
For decades Oxalis has been cussed at because of its prolific and sometimes invasive behavior, but still admired for its beauty. Some nursery growers poison it or put a pre-emergent poison on it to keep it from coming up in the first place. Some nurseries grow it on purpose. Personally, I let it grow.
Oxalis (Oxalis sp.) or wood sorrel is a native species of wildflower here in the United States that has some pretty important values, both medicinally and as a culinary delight. Oxalis grows in Alabama from spring through fall. The different varieties have pink, yellow or white blooms on them. Mountain wood sorrel (Oxalis montana) also grows here in the more shaded, moist areas. It has somewhat larger green leaves with bell-shaped, pink-veined white flowers. I introduced it to my garden several years ago after finding it in the woods of East Tennessee.
All of the species I grow here on the farm have a pleasing sour taste. The leaves are used on sandwiches or in green salads. Flowers are harvested and sprinkled whole on top of salads. The yellow flowers are especially showy on coleslaw where I also incorporate coarsely chopped leaves and stems. The oxalic acid in the leaves adds a pleasing sour compliment to the sweet Stevia in the slaw. The whole plant can also be cooked and eaten much as you would cook and eat greens. Teas made from boiling the roots and leaves are used to treat fevers and rheumatism.
All parts of the oxalis are edible. All parts of the oxalis contain oxalic acid which can cause kidney stones, stomach ailments, liver disease and, if you eat too much, it can be toxic or even fatal. The effects of ingesting too much oxalic acid can be compared to drinking ethylene glycol (anti-freeze).
It isn’t recommended to eat oxalis if you have kidney disease, gout or gut ulcers as the oxalic acid sometimes combines with certain minerals to change their metabolic structures and effects on our bodies. For example, and this is just a random example, when combined with calcium, the chemical can become calcium oxalate; needle-like crystals which are found in kidney stone patients.
Oxalic acid is thousands of times stronger than acetic acid. Think of this in comparison: household white vinegar is usually only 5% acetic acid. It gives a burning sensation when put on the tongue.
Oxalic acid is also found in rhubarb, beets, beans, spinach, chocolate, black pepper and tomatoes.
Scared now? I’m not! I am not about to give up my beans and tomatoes! I think I’ll go make a spinach, lettuce and oxalis salad and lay it on a bed of tomatoes. With a splash of Medina balsamic vinegar and a few twists of the peppermill, I’ll have a healthy lunch full of vitamins and minerals and has lots of tongue-tickling flavor! Eat-up!
Thanks for reading!