Sheep’s Sorrel


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Rumex acetosella
Perennial salad plant with red-tinged arrow-shaped leaves with a tangy acid-lemon flavour. It has the smallest leaves of the sorrels (3-4cm long) and makes a great salad leaf. It has also been used in multiple ways in alternative medicine, and is most recently being investigated for its promising anti-cancer properties due to the high levels of antioxidants. It is the main herb used in Essiac Tea for treating cancer.  Other benefits are said to be enhancing the flow of urine, treating fevers and inflammations, treating kidney and urinary tract diseases, as a remedy for intestinal parasites, helping in maintaining the normal levels of blood sugar and as a topical remedy for eczema, herpes, and itchy rashes  (it is closely related to common garden dock which is well known as an antidote to nettle rash). All sorrels can contain quite high levels of oxalic acid, so the leaves should not be eaten in large amounts since the oxalic acid can lock-up other nutrients in the food, especially calcium, causing mineral deficiencies. The oxalic acid content will be reduced if the plant is cooked, but those with rheumatism, arthritis, gout, kidney stones or hyperacidity are advised not to eat sorrel leaves.

All parts of sorrel are edible. The root can be cooked, and then dried and ground into a powder. The seeds can also be eaten raw or cooked, and also ground into a powder and mixed with other flours to make bread.

Sheep’s Sorrel has a more rhizomatous, and therefore spreading root system than the other sorrels, which can be an annoyance in the wrong place but can be utilised to provide great ground cover for orchards, food forests and eroded sites. Other uses include dyeing – a dark green to brown and dark grey dyes can be obtained from the roots, and as a curdling agent for milk in cheese-making. Sheep’s Sorrel enjoys full sun but will tolerate part shade, is frost hardy, low maintenance, and tolerates dry soil once established. Cut back seed head to encourage new leaves.

9cm pot. Certified organic plant.

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