How To Get Rid Of Oxalis (Wood Sorrel): A Complete Guide

Do you know what oxalis is? If you’ve ever seen a plant that looks like clover and has pink or yellow flowers, that’s probably oxalis. If you have a lawn, chances are at some point you will encounter it. Oxalis can be pretty to look at and even provide some food for wildlife, but it isn’t good news for your yard or garden. If left untreated, it can spread rapidly and threaten the health of your grass.

The oxalis weed is a common invasive weed that can often make its way into your lawn, but there are effective ways of getting rid of it. In this blog post you’ll find out how to get rid of oxalis and what products work best for your home lawn or garden. Find out more about this pesky weed below! 

What Exactly Is Oxalis?

Oxalidaceae, or Oxalis, includes more than 550 species worldwide with over 150 native to the United States. This weed is found in every corner of the world that weeds grow, and is particularly bountiful in Mexico, Brazil, and South Africa.

The plant has been used as both food and medicine since ancient times. Today, Oxalis is most commonly seen growing wild along roadsides or other untended areas where people have dumped garden debris containing bulbs from related plants such as garlic, onions, and even snowdrops.

There are myriad different types of oxalis weed. Many of the species of Oxalis are called Wood Sorrels, and these are the most common Oxalis weeds found in the United States and European countries, particularly subspecies like Yellow Wood Sorrel and Pink Sorrel.

The Oxalis plant is also often thought to be clover, and is sometimes called False Shamrocks, because it looks like four-leaf clovers and can be found throughout the British Isles.

Where and How Does Oxalis Grow?

There are three main types of Oxalis weed that concern most homeowners and gardeners. Common Wood Sorrel, or Oxalis acetosella, is native to Europe and parts of Asia, whereas Yellow Wood Sorrel, Oxalis stricta, is native to North America and parts of the Eurasian continent, and Pink Wood Sorrel, Oxalis articulata, is natively found in temperate areas of South America.

All of these different types of Oxalis weed have all been introduced to all other continents and climates. They spread through rhizomes, which are root-like stems that grow horizontally under the soil surface or on top of it.

These vines often spread more rapidly when they are in a wet area, as they can attach themselves to moist surfaces and begin growing. In addition to invading your lawn, the weed also makes its way into gravel beds and along riversides. Oxalis species can dominate the plant life in local woodland and forrest ecosystems.

How To Identify Oxalis

The most important part about removing any plant from your property is identifying it correctly so you know what products will effectively kill the plant without causing damage to surrounding plants or grasses.

The Wood Sorrel versions of Oxalis are often confused for clover or some other type of grass because they has three or four heart-shaped leaves and grows low to the ground, like shamrocks or clovers.

In addition to its green leaves and bushy appearance, Oxalis usually has flowers as well. With Common wood sorrel, the flowers can be white with pink or yellow shading, and with yellow wood sorrel and pink wood sorrel the flowers are a vibrant yellow or pink color, respectively. Each flower has five petals and are usually no more than 1 or 2 inches wide.

How to Kill Oxalis In Your Yard

Now that you’ve identified your Oxalis infestation, it’s time to get rid of it. This weed can be difficult to remove by hand, because if the root system is not removed properly the plant will often sprout up again quickly. When removing Oxalises, it’s important to use a gentle touch so as not to disturb other plants in the lawn or garden.

For the following remedies, always check the label of your chosen product to make sure it specifically says that it will not damage lawns. Also be sure to always use proper safety and gardening equipment when working in the yard or garden.

Chemical Means

One way to kill Oxalis that has grown in your lawn is with chemical herbicides and weed killers. This is the most effective way, but also often the most expensive.

You can find many products that are ready-to-use to prevent further Oxalis growth in your lawn or garden. It’s usually best to try these first because they are designed for use against broadleaf weeds like Oxalis.

Use specific broadleaf weed killers such as Preen Extended Control or Ortho Weed-B-Gone. Again, always take directions from the label when it comes to using an herbicide on your garden.

Organic Means

The first thing to try is to dig up the wood sorrel by hand. This would work best if there is only a small infestation in your yard, so try to do it as soon as you spot Oxalis weeds growing.

If that doesn’t work, a vinegar spray or boiling water poured on top of the weeds are effective natural remedies. These will kill or damage the plant and stop it from growing, but may not always prevent re-growth. Vinegar weed killers and boiling water should be used in the early morning or evening because these remedies can damage grass if it is applied to the lawn during peak sunlight hours.

How to Prevent Oxalis From Growing

Prevention is always better than cure so make sure that when planting new grass seedlings that they aren’t near an area where oxalis has been growing previously. You can also prevent its growth by making sure there’s no standing water nearby as well as aerating your lawn often to keep the soil from being too compact.

As a natural deterrent to oxalis, you can plant fescue grass in your yard. Fescue is a type of grass that naturally prevents the growth of weeds such as oxalis by blocking sunlight from reaching them and also preventing oxygen from getting into their roots.

Mowing your yard frequently also helps to prevent wood sorrel growth. It allows your healthy grasses and plants to thrive and doesn’t allow oxalis or other weeds to get a foothold in your lawn.


Lawns are an important part of any home or business property. Not only do they provide much needed green space but they also help reduce water runoff from storms! Unfortunately for those who maintain their own lawns, there is always a certain amount of maintenance required to ensure the healthiest possible grass. That includes getting rid of annoying, invasive weeds like Oxalis.

This blog post has provided you with a comprehensive list of all the information that is necessary to get rid of oxalis in your yard. If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact us and we’ll be happy to help! We hope this article was helpful for those who were looking for how to kill oxalis on their lawns.