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I have been interested in nature for most of my life but since I retired I spend as much time as I can exploring the nature reserves and wildlife hotspots of my adopted home, Dorset in southern England. Whilst out I record what I see and take snaps where I can (I am no photographer!) and that forms the basis of my Nature of Dorset website. When I find something new I like to research it and write about it in my nature notes, it is how I learn and hopefully you might find my notes helpful as well!

This website is for the people of Dorset interested in wildlife and for people from elsewhere interested in the wildlife of Dorset!

28 April, 2011

Wood Sorrel (Oxalis acetosella)

A walk through woodland at this time of year will probably reveal Wood Sorrel. It is a small white flower that one casts an eye to, says "It's Wood Sorrel" and you walk on.

Closer inspection, however, reveals more detail and especially the violet veins in the petals. I believe insects, especially bees, can see ultra-violet light and these veins lead to the centre of the plant and so guide any visiting insect to the nectar source and so to the pollen on the stamens. If the bee has already visited a previous plant of the species then accumulated pollen may be acquired by the stigma (the tube in the centre) from where it finds its way down the tube to the ovaries where the seeds are.

I was also interested to see the yellow at the base of the petals. I assumed at first that this was pollen that had stained them but looking in the book it seems that the inside of the petals are naturally yellow even though on the outside they are pure white.

Wood Sorrel is not related to other plants bearing the name sorrel. It is a member of the Oxalis family and I have heard it called Wood Oxalis. Common in Oak and Beech woodland, especially in dryer areas. They flower in March and April and will soon be over for another year.