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Sheep Sorrel

(Rumex acetosella)

Other Names:

Red Sorrel, Sour Weed, Field Sorrel



Polygonaceae Knotweed family

Identifying characteristics:

Growth Type:

An upright perennial herbaceous plant.


Reaching a height of 18 inches.


The arrow-shaped leaves are simple, and smooth with a pair of horizontal lobes at base. The leaves look similar to a sheep's face, with the lobes being the ears. This appearance is how the plant receives it's common name.


An upright stem that is slender and reddish in color, and branched at top, reaching a height of 18 inches


Spreading roots



Flowers from March to November


Yellowish-green flowers (male) or reddish (female) flowers develop on separate plants, at the apex of the stem.



Miscellaneous characteristics:



Fields, grasslands, and woodlands. It favors moist soil, so it thrives in floodplain, and near marshes.

Parts Used:



Wild Food Uses:

Enjoy leaves in salads, as a trail nibble, or in soups. try to collect leaves at the basal rosette stage. The leaves can be eaten from spring through autumn, but the leaves on the flowered plant are smaller than those of the basal rosette stage.

The following text is meant for informational purposes only. It is not meant to diagnose or treat any illness or injury. Always consult with a physician or other qualified medical care provider concerning the diagnosis and treatment of any illness or injury.

Medicinal Uses:

A tea or tincture made from the plant was traditionally used for fevers, inflammation, and scurvy. Fresh leaves are considered cooling, and a diuretic. The leaves can be roasted, then poulticed for tumors, and sebaceous cysts. Root tea used for diarrhea, and excessive menstrual bleeding. Sheep Sorrel is used in the anti-cancer Essiac formula. Sheep Sorrel is rich in cancer preventative vitamins, and includes four antimutagenic, and four antioxidant compounds.

Medicinal Actions:

Antidiarrheal, Anti-Inflammatory, Antimutagenic, Antineoplastic, Antioxidant, Diuretic, Emmenagogue, Febrifuge

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Revised: 05/11/16 Living Afield