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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    (0 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


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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.

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].

Other Uses

Dye.

Dark green to brown and dark grey dyes can be obtained from the roots, they do not need a mordant[168].

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.

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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 NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Rumex abyssinicusSpinach Rhubarb10
Rumex acetosaSorrel, Garden sorrel53
Rumex alpinusAlpine Dock, Munk's rhubarb42
Rumex angiocarpusCommon sheep sorrel10
Rumex aquaticusRed Dock, Western dock13
Rumex arcticusArctic Dock21
Rumex arifoliusMaiden Sorrel10
Rumex berlandieriamamastla10
Rumex browniiSwamp Dock20
Rumex bucephalophorusred dock10
Rumex conglomeratusSharp Dock, Clustered dock12
Rumex crispusCurled Dock, Curly dock23
Rumex daiwoosour dock12
Rumex dentatustoothed dock11
Rumex gmelinii 10
Rumex graminifoliusGrassleaf sorrel10
Rumex hastatus 22
Rumex hydrolapathumGreat Water Dock11
Rumex hymenosepalusCanaigre, Canaigre dock22
Rumex japonicus 20
Rumex longifoliusdooryard dock11
Rumex maritimusGolden Dock12
Rumex mexicanusMexican Dock12
Rumex nepalensis 12
Rumex obtusifoliusRound-Leaved Dock, Bitter dock12
Rumex occidentalisWestern Dock11
Rumex patientiaHerb Patience31
Rumex paucifoliusFewleaved Dock, Alpine sheep sorrel10
Rumex pulcherFiddle Dock10
12

 

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Expert comment

Author

L.

Botanical References

17

Links / 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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