ORRIN MORRIS: Yellow wood-sorrel, nicknamed sour grass, adds bitter flavor to salads

During one of the severe dry spells we endured the past decade, water restrictions were imposed. Suddenly, amid the drought, occasional scattered showers occurred for three weeks. They did not end the drought but they were a blessing, reminding us that good days would eventually come.

The scarcity of water is a reminder of another aspect of life, our spiritual well-being. The psalmist expressed it in a very poignant way, "As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for Thee, O God" (Psalm 42:1).

Is there a spiritual drought in your life? Is prayer time a regular part of your lifestyle? Do you rejoice for the opportunities to assemble for worship with God's people? Is there a song in your heart?

If not, end your spiritual drought and resolve to rearrange your priorities. Then, demonstrate that resolve by being at worship next Sunday.YELLOW WOOD-SORREL

Oxalis strictaThis wildflower is like some Christians that I have known. The circumstances of life have been very difficult, like a stark physical environment for the wood-sorrel. But these people are spiritually tough and bloom radiantly, honoring God by their faithfulness. "O God, may we demonstrate that same spiritual toughness, by Your grace. Amen."

The yellow wood-sorrel is a perennial that reappears each year from a slender rhizome. The plant reaches a height of 18 inches, but most I've seen are about 8 inches. The yellow blooms are about 1 inch with five petals and five stamen. The pistil extends beyond the stamens as pictured.

The most distinguishing mark of the wood-sorrel is the leaves. They are three-part structures with deep indentions at the mid-rib giving the illusion of six leaves. The edges of the leaves and the mid-rib are light green or yellow, reminiscent of the shamrock leaf.

The usual habitat of the yellow wood-sorrel is waste places, roadsides and fence rows. Two other wood-sorrels that are common in the U.S. are a pink variety with patterned petals reminiscent of hepatica, and a violet variety. Both of these specimens prefer rich and moist woods in the northern states and Canada.

The yellow wood-sorrel has another name, sour grass. Some adventurous people use the leaves of the yellow wood-sorrel to add a pleasantly sour taste to a green salad; however, they should be used sparingly because the oxalic acid, noted in the scientific name, is toxic when consumed in large quantities. This fact explains the "sour" that is used in this secondary name but I cannot figure how the term "grass" applies.

There are many wonders in God's creation that we call the natural world and the yellow wood-sorrel aptly takes its place among them.

Orrin Morris is a retired Baptist minister, local artist and art teacher. This column is included in a two-volume set of books of wildflower columns he has published. To purchase the books, visit the Nature Seen Gallery & Frame Shop, 914 Center St. in Olde Town Conyers.