YELLOW WOODSORREL LADY'S SORREL
(Oxalis stricta) Wood-sorrel family
Flowers - Golden, fragrant, in long peduncled, small, terminal
groups. Calyx of 5 sepals; corolla of 5 petals, usually reddish
at base; stamens, 10; 1 pistil with 5 styles; followed by slender
pods. Stem: Pale, erect, 3 to 12
in. high, the sap sour. Leaves:
Palmately compound, of 3 heart-shaped, clover-like leaflets on
Preferred Habitat - Open woodlands, waste or cultivated soil,
Flowering Season - April-October.
Distribution - Nova Scotia and Dakota westward to the Gulf of
An extremely common little weed, whose peculiarly sensitive
leaves children delight to set in motion by rubbing, or to chew
for the sour juice. Concerning the night "sleep" of wood-sorrel
leaves and the two kinds of flowers these plants bear, see the
white and violet wood-sorrels.
WILD or SLENDER YELLOW FLAX
(Linum Virginianum) Flax family
Flowers - Yellow, about 1/3 in. across, each from a leaf axil,
scattered along the slender branches. Sepals, 5; 5 petals, 5
stamens. Stem: 1 to 2 ft. high, branching, leafy. Leaves.
Alternate, seated on the stem; small, oblong, or lance-shaped, 1
Preferred Habitat - Dry woodlands and borders; shady places.
Flowering Season - June-August.
Distribution - New England to Georgia.
Certainly in the Atlantic States this is the commonest of its
slender, dainty tribe; but in bogs and swamps farther southward
and westward to Texas the RIDGED YELLOW FLAX (L. striatum), with
leaves arranged opposite each other up to the branches and an
angled stem so sticky it "adheres to paper in which it is dried,"
takes its place.
"Blue were her eyes as the fairy flax,"
wrote Longfellow, as if blue flax were a familiar sight on this
side of the Atlantic. The charming little European plant (L.
usitatissimum), which has furnished the fiber for linen and the
oily seeds for poultices from time immemorial, is only a fugitive
from cultivation here. Unhappily, it is rarely met with along the
roadsides and railways as it struggles to gain a foothold in our
waste places. Possibly Longfellow had in mind the blue toad flax
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