5 Weeds That Look Like Clover With Yellow Flowers

Finding weeds in your yard or garden can be quite frustrating, not only because they can ruin the beautiful scenery, but also because they compete with your plants on nutrition and space.

One of the most annoying types of these pesky creepers is those weeds that look like clover with yellow flowers. So what are they, and how to get rid of them?

While there are a few weeds that match this description, you’re most likely battling against oxalis. This uninvited guest comes in hundreds of species and some of them will bloom yellow flowers.

If you want to find out more about these weeds and how to distinguish them from each other, keep on reading this guide!

1. Creeping Woodsorrel

Yellow flower of creeping woodsorrel

Kicking off the list with one of the most popular oxalis species that are easily mistaken for clovers, the creeping woodsorrel.

This one is botanically known as “Oxalis corniculata”, but in addition to creeping woodsorrel, it’s also known as the “Procumbent Yellow Sorrel” because it doesn’t grow roots like some other species of woodsorrel.

The creeping woodsorrel is originally native to Southeast Asia, but it found its way to Europe back in the early 15th century and continued to spread as a garden and lawn weed all over the world where the conditions are met, including North America.

In terms of resemblance with clover, it’s the one with the most points of similarity. For starters, the leaves of these plants are subdivided into three leaflets with heart shaped edges.

This makes them look exactly like an authentic clover, especially in varieties that have bright green leaves, as there are some varieties with a completely different color. For example, the “atropurpurea” variety has purple leaves instead of green.

The special aspect about creeping woodsorrel is that its leaves will usually open up in the early morning when direct sunlight hits the leaves and fold downward again when the sun goes down, which is why it’s also called the “Sleeping Beauty”

In addition to the leaves, the creeping woodsorrel also has a delicate, narrow stem that forms roods at the notes and grows leaves above petioles. They’re usually at the same height as clovers, which is between 4 to 12 inches.

As for the flowers, this weed typically has yellow colored flowers that are relatively small with rounded 5 petals, but may vary in shape depending on the variety. 

Additionally, different varieties can have either a single flower per weed or multiple ones (up to 20).

This invasive weed can attack dry and moist soils, but typically prefers dry ones, so they’re commonly a problem in thin untended soils with poor nutrition, as they need very little to survive.

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2. Bermuda Buttercup

Another type of oxalis weed that also matches the description can be the Bermuda Buttercup, also known botanically as “Oxalis pes caprae”. This one means “goat’s foot”, which is derived from the shape of its leaves, but more about that later.

In addition to Bermuda Buttercup and goats foot, this invasive species also goes by many names depending on the region and some of its features, such as Cape Woodsorrel or African Woodsorrel as well as Sourgrass or Soursop (due to its high oxalic acid content)

As the name suggests, the plant is originally native to South Africa, but its capability to survive and resist eradication helped it become a pest plant in various parts of the world, including:

  • North America, especially the Western Coast
  • Europe
  • The Middle East
  • Australia

The plant is quite similar to creeping woodsorrel and clover because its leaves are also arranged in the form of three leaflets with a heart shaped tip. 

However, by taking a closer look, you’ll notice the notch in these leaves is more pronounced than in clover and creeping woodsorrel. Additionally, the leaflets here are slightly further away from each other.

Another major difference between this species and creeping woodsorrel is that this one forms a network of small underground bulbs from which the leaves propagate, so they’re usually more difficult to eliminate.

The flowers of this species are golden yellow and have a short blooming season that lasts from late spring to late summer. In fact, the petals of the flower are so bright that they’re used to make yellow dyes.

3. Common Yellow Woodsorrel

Oxalis stricta, called the common yellow woodsorrel

Another species of oxalis that is often mistaken for clovers is the common yellow woodsorrel. This one is scientifically known as “Oxalis stricta”. 

In fact, this one has a lot of similarities with creeping woodsorrel that a lot of people confuse them with each other thinking they’re the same, but they’re two different species.

The reason why this one is known as “Common” is that it’s originally endemic to North America as well as parts of Asia and Europe. 

The plant typically grows in meadows and areas with suitable alkaline soils, whether it’s dry or moist.

Depending on the variety of the species and the region it grows, this invasive plant can either be annual or perennial.

When the plant is still young, it usually has an upright stem, which is why it’s also called “upright woodsorrel”. However, as it matures, the plant’s stem will lie flat on the soil while the shoot branches and grows upwards.

Like other oxalis, this species will also divide its leaves into clusters of three with heart shaped tips that look like clover and grow to around 3/4 of an inch. 

Unlike the creeping woodsorrel, the leaves of this plant will curl upwards rather than downwards during the night and open back again when exposed to sunlight.

The flowers of this species are relatively small but with the same vibrant yellow color. They typically bloom between mid summer to early fall.

Also Check: 9 Purple Flowers That Look Like Bells

4. Spiral Sorrel

The spiral woodsorrel is known botanically as “Oxalis spiralis”, and it’s one of the less common species of oxalis that bloom yellow flowers.

This species is originally native to Central and South America where it’s called “Aurea” (relating to its golden yellow flowers), but it survives poor soil conditions very well, which allowed it to spread up north.

Spiral sorrels are much easier to distinguish from other woodsorrels because their mature stems will turn reddish brown. 

Also, the margins of their heart shaped leaves are reddish brown, despite having the same structure as clovers.

The flowers of spiral sorrels are much larger and more abundant than other species on the list. However, the plant forms underground bulbs, so it’s equally hard to eradicate.

You can still manage and get rid of these pesky weeds using a herbicide. However, in most cases, the best approach to prevent them from reappearing is to use a non-selective herbicide that contains glyphosate, such as Roundup Super Concentrate Weed & Grass Killer

5. Black Medic

Wild blooms of alfalfa hop (Medicago lupulina)

The Black Medic is another species of pest plant that can easily pass as a clover while it isn’t. The botanical name of this species is “Medicago lupulina”, but it’s also known as “Nonesuch” as well as “Hop Clover”.

In fact, the Black Medic is considered a very close relative to true clover, as they both originate from the Trifolieae tribe, but each one is a different genus. 

The origins of the Black Medic are debated, as some people claim that it’s originally native to Sweden and Finland while others believe that it’s native to the Middle East. 

Today, the plant exists nearly everywhere in the world apart from the West Saharan desert in Africa and Southeast Asia.

The Black Medic can either be an annual or perennial plant, although it’s usually short lived when perennial. 

Yet, it uses nodules or bulbs that host nitrogen fixing bacteria in order to survive and come back for several years.

Despite its close similarities with clover, you’ll be able to identify it due to various features. For starters, this plant is a bit taller, as it usually reaches heights of about 6 to 30 inches.

Similar to other plants on this list, this one also has the same leaves that are made up of three heart shaped leaflets. 

But, upon closer look, you’ll notice that the leaves here are hairy with a serrated margin, especially around the tips.

Black Medic is also a flowering weed that blooms yellow flowers. With that said, flowers of this species are quite different when compared to other flowers on the list, as they’re shaped like clusters rather than the standard 5 petal look.

Final Words: Weeds That Look Like Clover With Yellow Flowers

This wraps it up for today’s guide about the common weeds that look like clover and bloom yellow flowers.

Since the oxalis family typically has leaf arrangements similar to that of the clover, you’re mostly encountering one of the invasive species of oxalis that bloom yellow flowers. 

Alternatively, there are other species that can be confused with clover, such as Black Medic, which is a close relative but a completely different genus.

With this guide, you should be able to identify the species that showed up uninvited in your garden, which will allow you to find the best possible approach to eradicate them.