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Wood-sorrel: the Alleluia flower

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Wood-sorrel: the Alleluia flower

A walk through broad-leaf woodland in early spring will probably reveal wood-sorrel (Oxalis acetosella), a small white flower that one casts an eye to, you say "It's wood-sorrel" and then walk on. Closer inspection reveals more detail, 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 same 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 discover the yellow at the base of the petals. I assumed that this was pollen that had stained them but looking in my 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, and is often an indicator of ancient woodland as it spreads very slowly by underground rhizomes.
 
They flower in March and April which is generally between Easter and Pentecost in the church calender and when 'Alleluia' is used in services and so this plant is also known as the Alleluia flower!  (Thanks to Wikipedia for that gem of information).

If you would like to see the complete series that this post is part of click here ---->
This nature note was written by ----> Peter Orchard
This nature nore was written ----> 2 years 7 months ago

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