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Rumex acetosella - L.

Common Name Sheeps Sorrel, Common sheep sorrel
Family Polygonaceae
USDA hardiness 4-8
Known Hazards Plants can contain quite high levels of oxalic acid, which is what gives the leaves of many members of this genus an acid-lemon flavour. Perfectly alright in small quantities, the leaves should not be eaten in large amounts since the oxalic acid can lock-up other nutrients in the food, especially calcium, thus causing mineral deficiencies. The oxalic acid content will be reduced if the plant is cooked. People with a tendency to rheumatism, arthritis, gout, kidney stones or hyperacidity should take especial caution if including this plant in their diet since it can aggravate their condition[238].
Habitats Heaths and acid grasslands[17]. A weed of acid soils[17, 55].
Range Cetral and southeastern Europe, including Britain, as far north as Scandanavia and Iceland.
Edibility Rating    (4 of 5)
Other Uses    (1 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (3 of 5)
Care
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Rumex acetosella Sheeps Sorrel, Common sheep sorrel


http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Rumex_acetosella_Sturm58.jpg
Rumex acetosella Sheeps Sorrel, Common sheep sorrel
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Summary


Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Rumex acetosella is a PERENNIAL growing to 0.3 m (1ft) by 1 m (3ft 3in) at a fast rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 5 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from May to August, and the seeds ripen from July to September. The species is dioecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but only one sex is to be found on any one plant so both male and female plants must be grown if seed is required). and is pollinated by Wind. The plant is not self-fertile.
It is noted for attracting wildlife.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very acid soils.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil. The plant can tolerate maritime exposure.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map

Synonyms

Habitats

 Meadow;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Leaves  Root  Seed
Edible Uses: Drink

Leaves - raw or cooked[4, 12, 55, 62, 183]. A delicious lemon-like flavour, most people consider them too strong to use in quantity, but they are excellent as a flavouring in mixed salads[K]. The leaves should only be used in small quantities due to the oxalic acid content. The leaves can be used as thickeners in soups etc[102], they can also be dried for later use[12]. Root - cooked. It can be dried, ground into a powder and made into noodles[105]. Seed - raw or cooked[172]. Easy to harvest, but the seed is rather small and fiddly to use[K]. A drink similar to lemonade (but without the fizz) is made by boiling up the leaves[102].

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Astringent  Diuretic  Poultice

Sheep's sorrel is a detoxifying herb, the fresh juice of the leaves having a pronounced diuretic effect[254]. Like other members of the genus, it is mildly laxative and holds out potential as a long term treatment for chronic disease, in particular that of the gastro-intestinal tract[254]. The plant is also part of a North American formula called essiac which is a popular treatment for cancer. Its effectiveness has never been reliably proven or disproven since controlled studies have not been carried out. The other herbs included in the formula are Arctium lappa, Ulmus rubra and Rheum palmatum[254]. The whole plant, used in the fresh state, is diaphoretic, diuretic and refrigerant[222]. A tea made from the leaves is used in the treatment of fevers, inflammation and scurvy[222]. The leaf juice is useful in the treatment of urinary and kidney diseases[4]. A leaf poultice is applied to tumours, cysts etc, and is a folk treatment for cancer[222]. A tea made from the roots is astringent and is used in the treatment of diarrhoea and excessive menstrual bleeding[222].

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Other Uses

Dye

Dark green to brown and dark grey dyes can be obtained from the roots, they do not need a mordant[168]. A dynamic accumulator gathering minerals or nutrients from the soil and storing them in a more bioavailable form - used as fertilizer or to improve mulch.

Special Uses

Attracts Wildlife  Dynamic accumulator  Food Forest

Cultivation details

Succeeds in most soils[37], preferring a moist moderately fertile well-drained soil in a sunny position[200]. Although a plant of acid soils, it can tolerate some alkalinity[17]. A good food plant for the caterpillars of many species of butterflies[24, 30], it grows well in the summer meadow[24]. Dioecious. Male and female plants must be grown if seed is required. For polyculture design as well as the above-ground architecture (form - tree, shrub etc. and size shown above) information on the habit and root pattern is also useful and given here if available. A clumping mat former. Forming a dense prostrate carpet spreading indefinitely [1-2]. The root pattern is stoloniferous rooting from creeping stems above the ground [1-2].

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Propagation

Seed - sow autumn or spring in situ. Division in spring.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Rumex abyssinicusSpinach RhubarbPerennial3.0 -  LMHSNM10 
Rumex acetosaSorrel, Garden sorrelPerennial0.6 3-7  LMHSNM533
Rumex alpinusAlpine Dock, Munk's rhubarbPerennial1.2 4-8 MLMHSNM42 
Rumex angiocarpusCommon sheep sorrelPerennial0.3 0-0  LMHSNM10 
Rumex aquaticusRed Dock, Western dockPerennial1.8 0-0  LMHSNWeWa13 
Rumex arcticusArctic DockPerennial0.0 -  LMHSNWe21 
Rumex arifoliusMaiden SorrelPerennial1.2 -  LMHSNM10 
Rumex berlandieriamamastlaPerennial0.6 -  LMHSNM10 
Rumex browniiSwamp DockPerennial0.6 -  LMHSNM20 
Rumex bucephalophorusred dockAnnual/Perennial0.0 -  LMHSNDM10 
Rumex conglomeratusSharp Dock, Clustered dockPerennial1.0 0-0  LMHSNM12 
Rumex crispusCurled Dock, Curly dockPerennial0.6 4-8  LMHSNM230
Rumex daiwoosour dockPerennial1.0 -  LMHSNMWe12 
Rumex dentatustoothed dockAnnual/Biennial0.6 -  LMHSNM11 
Rumex gmelinii Perennial1.0 -  LMHSNMWe10 
Rumex graminifoliusGrassleaf sorrelPerennial0.1 0-0  LMHSNM10 
Rumex hastatus Perennial1.0 -  LMHSNDM22 
Rumex hydrolapathumGreat Water DockPerennial1.8 5-9  LMHSNMWeWa11 
Rumex hymenosepalusCanaigre, Canaigre dockPerennial1.0 0-0  LMHSNM22 
Rumex japonicus Perennial1.0 -  LMHSNM20 
Rumex longifoliusdooryard dockPerennial1.2 -  LMHSNM11 
Rumex maritimusGolden DockAnnual0.5 -  LMHSNMWe12 
Rumex mexicanusMexican DockPerennial1.0 -  LMHSNM12 
Rumex nepalensis Perennial1.2 -  LMHSNM12 
Rumex obtusifoliusRound-Leaved Dock, Bitter dockPerennial1.0 4-8  LMHSNM120
Rumex occidentalisWestern DockPerennial1.8 -  LMHSNM11 
Rumex patientiaHerb PatiencePerennial1.5 5-10  LMHSNM310
Rumex paucifoliusFewleaved Dock, Alpine sheep sorrelPerennial0.0 0-0  LMHSNMWe10 
Rumex pulcherFiddle DockPerennial0.5 -  LMHSNDM10 
12

 

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Botanical References

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Readers comment

   Mon Jul 9 2007

i just walked out one day and my uncle tols me to try a sheep sorrel. So i took a leaf and i tried and the taste is amazing

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