Oxalis violacea (Violet Wood Sorrel)

Plant Info
Also known as:
Family:Oxalidaceae (Wood Sorrel)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:part shade, sun; dry soil; prairies, open woods
Bloom season:April - June
Plant height:4 to 8 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:none
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 5-petals Flower shape: bell Cluster type: raceme

[photo of flowers] A cluster of a few to several stalked flowers at the top of a naked stem, technically an umbel (stalks all attached at the same point). Flower stalks are about 1 inch long and weak so the flowers tend to flop about. Flowers are about ½ inch across, bell-shaped and fused at the base with 5 pink to lavender spreading lobes that often curl back to some degree. The throat of the tube is green, and holds 5 long yellow-tipped stamens and 5 shorter stamens.

[photo of sepals] The 5 sepals are slender, thickened at the tip, and light green, except for a spot of color at the very tip, typically purplish but can vary from yellow to orange to pink to purple. A plant may have multiple flowering stems, with a cluster at the end of each stem.

Leaves and stems: Leaf attachment: basal Leaf type: compound Leaf type: palmate

[photo of leaves] Leaves are basal, palmately compound in 3s, about 1 inch across. Leaflets are generally heart-shaped with the lobed end at the tip (obcordate), toothless and hairless except a few sparse hairs sometimes along the midrib on the underside. Leaflets fold up at night and spread out during the day. Leaf stalks are up to 4 inches long, hairless, and green or purplish. Leaflets may also turn purplish in response to weather conditions.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

[photo of fruit] Fruit is a oval to egg-shaped capsule about ¼ inch long with 5 chambers, each containing 2 or 3 seeds.


This is the only lavender-flowered wood sorrel in Minnesota. Most similar is Mountain Wood Sorrel (Oxalis montana or O. acetosella), which has white flowers with pink lines and is present only in the Arrowhead counties while O. violacea is present in much of the rest of the state, the two not overlapping in their ranges. Violet Wood Sorrel can do well in a sunny home garden if there is not a lot of competition from taller plants and has well-drained soil.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken at Strandness Prairie, Pope County, and Interstate State Park, Chisago County. Photos by Peter M. Dziuk taken at Whitewater Wildlife Mangement Area, Winona County, Lost Valley SNA, Washington County, and in Renville County.


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Mona - Crow Wing County, Ideal Township
on: 2012-04-16 11:05:25

I was delighted to find these lovely dainty jewels blooming on April 14th, 2012. We have owned the property 6 years and this is the first time we have seen them.

Posted by: Sara - Yellow Medicine county
on: 2021-05-11 11:49:10

Blooming today on our sandy, dry side slopes in remnant pasture.

Posted by: Kay Maher - Stearns County
on: 2021-05-20 09:16:05

Saw a single plant of this in a prairie area next to the Lake Wobegon trail west of Sauk Centre, close to the Todd county line.

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