Practical ecological knowledge for the temperate reader.

Oxyria digyna - mountain sorrel

Family: Polygonaceae (Buckwheat family) [E-flora]

"Oxyria digyna is a PERENNIAL growing to 0.5 m (1ft 8in) by 0.3 m (1ft). It is hardy to zone (UK) 2 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from Jun to August, and the seeds ripen from Jul to August. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Wind. Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil." [PFAF]

"General: Perennial herb from a long, stout, fleshy taproot and branched crown; stems erect, few to numerous, 5-50 cm tall, smooth, often reddish-tinged, strongly acrid-juiced." [IFBC-E-flora]

"Leaves: Basal leaves round to kidney-shaped, the margins slightly wavy, smooth, the blades 1-5 cm wide, the stalks 4-8 cm long; stem leaves similar, usually 1 or lacking; stipules sheathing, membranous, brownish or reddish, the sheaths loose, oblique." [IFBC-E-flora]

"Flowers: Inflorescence of whorled flowers in a dense, narrow panicle-like raceme 5-15 cm long; perianths greenish or reddish, the segments 4, 1.5-2.5 mm long; stamens 6; sepals 4." [IFBC-E-flora]

"Fruits: Achenes, lens-shaped, widely winged, 4-6 mm wide." [IFBC-E-flora]

Habitat / Range

"Moist rock outcrops, talus and scree slopes, streambanks and snowbed sites from the upper montane to alpine zones; common throughout BC, except rare on the Queen Charlotte Islands; circumpolar, N to AK, YT and NT, E to NF and S to NH, AZ, NM and CA; Iceland, Eurasia." [IFBC-E-flora]

"Damp rocky places on mountains, especially by streams, avoiding acid soils[17]. Locally common on enriched soils below bird roosts[200]. Mountains of the northern temperate zone, including Britain." [PFAF]

Origin Status: Native [E-flora]


"The leaves contain oxalic acid, which gives them their sharp flavour. Perfectly all right in small quantities, the leaves should not be eaten in large amounts since oxalic acid can bind up the body's supply of calcium leading to nutritional deficiency. The quantity of oxalic acid will be reduced if the leaves are cooked. People with a tendency to rheumatism, arthritis, gout, kidney stones or hyperacidity should take especial caution if including this plant in their diet since it can aggravate their condition[238]." [PFAF]

Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses Propagation

"Seed - sow spring in a cold frame and only just cover the seed. The seed germinates within 2 weeks. It can also be sown as soon as it is ripe, when it germinates within a few days. Prick the seedlings out into individual pots as soon as they are ripe and plant them out into their permanent positions in early summer. Division in the spring. Larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found that it is better to pot up the smaller divisions and grow them on in light shade in a cold frame until they are well established before planting them out in late spring or early summer." [PFAF]


"Prefers a moist well-drained rocky soil in a sunny position or partial shade[200]. Requires a lime free soil[200]. There is some controversy here since the plant is said to avoid acid soils in the wild[K]." [PFAF]


Oxyria Sp.

"4 species. (Greek: sour, from acidic taste) [Chrtek & Sourková 1992 Preslia 64:207–210]" [Jepson]

Local Species;

  1. Oxyria digyna - mountain sorrel


Page last modified on Wednesday, November 17, 2021 9:27 PM