Botanical Name: Rumex acetus
Species: R. acetosa
Synonyms: Acetosa hastulata Raf. Acetosa hastifolia Schur. Acetosa angustata Raf.
Common Names: Sorrel , Common sorrel , Garden sorrel
Other Names: Spinach dock and Narrow-leaved dock
Habitat : Rumex acetosa occurs in grassland habitats throughout Europe from the northern Mediterranean coast to the north of Scandinavia and in parts of Central Asia. It occurs as an introduced species in parts of North America.It grows in meadows, by streams and in open places in woodland. Often found as a weed of acid soils
Sorrel is a slender herbaceous perennial plant about 60 centimetres (24 in) high by 0.3 m (1ft in), with roots that run deep into the ground, as well as juicy stems and edible, arrow-shaped (sagittate) leaves. The leaves, when consumed raw, taste like a sour green apple candy. The lower leaves are 7 to 15 centimetres (2.8 to 5.9 in) in length with long petioles and a membranous ocrea formed of fused, sheathing stipules. The upper ones are sessile, and frequently become crimson. It has whorled spikes of reddish-green flowers, which bloom in early summer, becoming purplish. The species is dioecious, with stamens and pistils on different plants.
It is not frost tender. It is in leaf 12-Jan It is in flower from May to June, and the seeds ripen from Jun to August. The flowers are 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 are pollinated by Wind.The plant is not self-fertile. It is noted for attracting wildlife.
The leaves are eaten by the larvae of several species of Lepidoptera (butterfly and moth) including the blood-vein moth.
A very easily grown and tolerant plant, it succeeds in most soils, preferring a moist moderately fertile well-drained soil in a sunny position. Shade tolerant. Established plants are tolerant of considerable neglect, surviving even in dense weed growth. Sorrel has been used since ancient times as a food and medicinal plant. It is still occasionally cultivated for its edible leaves, there are some named varieties. The plant stops producing leaves when it flowers in the summer, regrowing after the seed has set. Plants also usually die down in the winter. Cutting down the flowering stem will encourage the growth of fresh young leaves. ‘Blonde de Lyon’ has large, only slightly acid leaves and is much less likely to flower than the type. This means that the leaves of this cultivar are often available all through the summer and are often also produced throughout the winter, especially if the winter is mild. A food plant for the caterpillars of many species of butterfly, it is a good plant to grow in the spring meadow. Dioecious. Male and female plants must be grown if seed is required.
Seed – sow spring in situ. Leaves can be harvested within 8 weeks from sowing. Division in spring. Division is very simple at almost any time of the year, though the plants establish more rapidly in the spring. Use a sharp spade or knife to divide the rootstock, ensuring that there is at least one growth bud on each section of root. Larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found it best to pot up the smaller divisions and grow them on in a lightly shaded position in a cold frame, planting them out once they are well established in the summer.
Edible Uses :
Edible Parts: Flowers; Leaves; Root; Seed.
Edible Uses: Curdling agent.
Leaves – raw or cooked. They make a thirst-quenching on their own, or can be added to salads, used as a potherb or pureed and used in soups. A delicious lemon-like flavour, liked by most people who try them, they can be rather overpowering in quantity and are more generally used as a flavouring in mixed salads. The leaves can also be dried for later use. The leaves can be available all through the winter, especially in mild weather or if a little protection is given to the plants. The leaves should be used sparingly in the diet, see the notes on toxicity above. Flowers – cooked as a vegetable or used as a garnish. Root – cooked. It is dried, ground into a powder and made into noodles. Seed – raw or cooked. Ground into a powder and mixed with other flours to make bread. The seed is easy to harvest, but is rather small and fiddly to use. The juice of the leaves can be used as a curdling agent for milks.
Anthelmintic; Antiscorbutic; Astringent; Depurative; Diuretic; Febrifuge; Homeopathy; Laxative; Refrigerant; Stomachic.
The fresh or dried leaves are astringent, diuretic, laxative and refrigerant. They are used to make a cooling drink in the treatment of fevers and are especially useful in the treatment of scurvy. The leaf juice, mixed with fumitory, has been used as a cure for itchy skin and ringworm. An infusion of the root is astringent, diuretic and haemostatic. It has been used in the treatment of jaundice, gravel and kidney stones. Both the roots and the seeds have been used to stem haemorrhages. A paste of the root is applied to set dislocated bones. The plant is depurative and stomachic. A homeopathic remedy is made from the plant. It is used in the treatment of spasms and skin ailments.
Cleanser; Dye; Polish.
Dark green to brown and dark grey dyes can be obtained from the roots, they do not need a mordant. A grey-blue dye is obtained from the leaves and stems. An infusion of the stems is used as a polish for bamboo and wicker furniture and also for silver. The juice of the plant removes stains from linen and also ink stains (but not ball-point ink) from white material. It is sometimes sold as ‘essential salt of lemon‘
Known Hazards : Rumex acetus 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
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.