If you would like to support this site, please consider Donating.
Useful Temperate Plants

Rumex acetosella

L.

Polygonaceae


The Temperate Database is in the process of being updated, with new records being added and old ones being checked and brought up to date where necessary. This record has not yet been checked and updated.

+ Synonyms

Common Name: Sheeps Sorrel

No Image.

General Information

Rumex acetosella is a perennial plant that can grow up to 0.30 metres tall.
It is harvested from the wild for local use as a food, medicine and source of materials.

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
Title
Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses.
Publication
 
Author
Bown. D.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley, London.
Year
1995
ISBN
0-7513-020-31
Description
A very well presented and informative book on herbs from around the globe. Plenty in it for both the casual reader and the serious student. Just one main quibble is the silly way of having two separate entries for each plant.
].

Botanical References

17
Title
Flora of the British Isles.
Publication
 
Author
Clapham, Tutin and Warburg.
Publisher
Cambridge University Press
Year
1962
ISBN
-
Description
A very comprehensive flora, the standard reference book but it has no pictures.

Range

Cetral and southeastern Europe, including Britain, as far north as Scandanavia and Iceland.

Habitat

Heaths and acid grasslands[
17
Title
Flora of the British Isles.
Publication
 
Author
Clapham, Tutin and Warburg.
Publisher
Cambridge University Press
Year
1962
ISBN
-
Description
A very comprehensive flora, the standard reference book but it has no pictures.
]. A weed of acid soils[
17
Title
Flora of the British Isles.
Publication
 
Author
Clapham, Tutin and Warburg.
Publisher
Cambridge University Press
Year
1962
ISBN
-
Description
A very comprehensive flora, the standard reference book but it has no pictures.
,
55
Title
Eat the Weeds.
Publication
 
Author
Harris. B. C.
Publisher
Pivot Health
Year
1973
ISBN
-
Description
Interesting reading.
].

Properties

Edibility Rating *  *  *  *
Medicinal Rating *  *  *
HabitPerennial
Height0.30 m
Growth RateFast
PollinatorsWind
Self-fertileNo
Cultivation StatusWild

Cultivation Details

Succeeds in most soils[
37
Title
The Gardener's Assistant.
Publication
 
Author
Thompson. B.
Publisher
Blackie and Son.
Year
1878
ISBN
-
Description
Excellent general but extensive guide to gardening practices in the 19th century. A very good section on fruits and vegetables with many little known species.
], preferring a moist moderately fertile well-drained soil in a sunny position[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
]. Although a plant of acid soils, it can tolerate some alkalinity[
17
Title
Flora of the British Isles.
Publication
 
Author
Clapham, Tutin and Warburg.
Publisher
Cambridge University Press
Year
1962
ISBN
-
Description
A very comprehensive flora, the standard reference book but it has no pictures.
].
A good food plant for the caterpillars of many species of butterflies[
24
Title
Making a Wildlife Garden.
Publication
 
Author
Baines. C.
Publisher
 
Year
 
ISBN
 
Description
Fairly good with lots of ideas about creating wildlife areas in the garden.
,
30
Title
Butterflies and Moths in Britain and Europe.
Publication
 
Author
Carter D.
Publisher
Pan
Year
1982
ISBN
0-330-26642-x
Description
An excellent book on Lepidoptera, it also lists their favourite food plants.
], it grows well in the summer meadow[
24
Title
Making a Wildlife Garden.
Publication
 
Author
Baines. C.
Publisher
 
Year
 
ISBN
 
Description
Fairly good with lots of ideas about creating wildlife areas in the garden.
].
A dioecious species - both male and female forms must be grown if fruit and seed are required.

Edible Uses

Leaves - raw or cooked[
4
Title
A Modern Herbal.
Publication
 
Author
Grieve.
Publisher
Penguin
Year
1984
ISBN
0-14-046-440-9
Description
Not so modern (1930's?) but lots of information, mainly temperate plants.
,
12
Title
Britain's Wild Larder.
Publication
 
Author
Loewenfeld. C. and Back. P.
Publisher
David & Charles; Newton Abbot.
Year
 
ISBN
0-7153-7971-2
Description
A handy pocket guide.
,
55
Title
Eat the Weeds.
Publication
 
Author
Harris. B. C.
Publisher
Pivot Health
Year
1973
ISBN
-
Description
Interesting reading.
,
62
Title
A Field Guide to N. American Edible Wild Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Elias. T. and Dykeman. P.
Publisher
Van Nostrand Reinhold
Year
1982
ISBN
0442222009
Description
Very readable.
,
183
Title
Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications
Year
1990
ISBN
0-9628087-0-9
Description
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.
]. 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
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
]. 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
Title
Native Harvests.
Publication
 
Author
Kavasch. B.
Publisher
Vintage Books
Year
1979
ISBN
0-394-72811-4
Description
Another guide to the wild foods of America.
], they can also be dried for later use[
12
Title
Britain's Wild Larder.
Publication
 
Author
Loewenfeld. C. and Back. P.
Publisher
David & Charles; Newton Abbot.
Year
 
ISBN
0-7153-7971-2
Description
A handy pocket guide.
].
Root - cooked. It can be dried, ground into a powder and made into noodles[
105
Title
Tanaka's Cyclopedia of Edible Plants of the World.
Publication
 
Author
Tanaka. T. & Nakao S.
Publisher
Keigaku Publishing; Tokyo
Year
1976
ISBN
-
Description
The most comprehensive list of edible plants I've come across. Only the briefest entry for each species, though, and some of the entries are more than a little dubious. Not for the casual reader.
].
Seed - raw or cooked[
172
Title
Discovering Wild Plants - Alaska, W. Canada and the Northwest.
Publication
 
Author
Schofield. J. J.
Publisher
Alaska Northwest Books; Alaska
Year
2003
ISBN
0882403699
Description
A nice guide to some useful plants in that area.
]. Easy to harvest, but the seed is rather small and fiddly to use[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
].
A drink similar to lemonade (but without the fizz) is made by boiling up the leaves[
102
Title
Native Harvests.
Publication
 
Author
Kavasch. B.
Publisher
Vintage Books
Year
1979
ISBN
0-394-72811-4
Description
Another guide to the wild foods of America.
].

Medicinal

Sheep's sorrel is a detoxifying herb, the fresh juice of the leaves having a pronounced diuretic effect[
254
Title
The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants
Publication
 
Author
Chevallier. A.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley. London
Year
1996
ISBN
9-780751-303148
Description
An excellent guide to over 500 of the more well known medicinal herbs from around the world.
]. 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
Title
The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants
Publication
 
Author
Chevallier. A.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley. London
Year
1996
ISBN
9-780751-303148
Description
An excellent guide to over 500 of the more well known medicinal herbs from around the world.
]. 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
Title
The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants
Publication
 
Author
Chevallier. A.
Publisher
Dorling Kindersley. London
Year
1996
ISBN
9-780751-303148
Description
An excellent guide to over 500 of the more well known medicinal herbs from around the world.
].
The whole plant, used in the fresh state, is diaphoretic, diuretic and refrigerant[
222
Title
A Field Guide to Medicinal Plants. Eastern and Central N. America.
Publication
 
Author
Foster. S. & Duke. J. A.
Publisher
Houghton Mifflin Co.
Year
1990
ISBN
0395467225
Description
A concise book dealing with almost 500 species. A line drawing of each plant is included plus colour photographs of about 100 species. Very good as a field guide, it only gives brief details about the plants medicinal properties.
]. A tea made from the leaves is used in the treatment of fevers, inflammation and scurvy[
222
Title
A Field Guide to Medicinal Plants. Eastern and Central N. America.
Publication
 
Author
Foster. S. & Duke. J. A.
Publisher
Houghton Mifflin Co.
Year
1990
ISBN
0395467225
Description
A concise book dealing with almost 500 species. A line drawing of each plant is included plus colour photographs of about 100 species. Very good as a field guide, it only gives brief details about the plants medicinal properties.
]. The leaf juice is useful in the treatment of urinary and kidney diseases[
4
Title
A Modern Herbal.
Publication
 
Author
Grieve.
Publisher
Penguin
Year
1984
ISBN
0-14-046-440-9
Description
Not so modern (1930's?) but lots of information, mainly temperate plants.
]. A leaf poultice is applied to tumours, cysts etc, and is a folk treatment for cancer[
222
Title
A Field Guide to Medicinal Plants. Eastern and Central N. America.
Publication
 
Author
Foster. S. & Duke. J. A.
Publisher
Houghton Mifflin Co.
Year
1990
ISBN
0395467225
Description
A concise book dealing with almost 500 species. A line drawing of each plant is included plus colour photographs of about 100 species. Very good as a field guide, it only gives brief details about the plants medicinal properties.
].
A tea made from the roots is astringent and is used in the treatment of diarrhoea and excessive menstrual bleeding[
222
Title
A Field Guide to Medicinal Plants. Eastern and Central N. America.
Publication
 
Author
Foster. S. & Duke. J. A.
Publisher
Houghton Mifflin Co.
Year
1990
ISBN
0395467225
Description
A concise book dealing with almost 500 species. A line drawing of each plant is included plus colour photographs of about 100 species. Very good as a field guide, it only gives brief details about the plants medicinal properties.
].

Other Uses

Dark green to brown and dark grey dyes can be obtained from the roots, they do not need a mordant[
168
Title
Nature's Colors - Dyes from Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Grae. I.
Publisher
MacMillan Publishing Co. New York.
Year
1974
ISBN
0-02-544950-8
Description
A very good and readable book on dyeing.
].

Propagation

Seed - sow autumn or spring in situ.
Division in spring.
Cite as: Temperate Plants Database, Ken Fern. temperate.theferns.info. 2019-09-18. <temperate.theferns.info/plant/Rumex+acetosella>

Add a Comment:

If you have any useful information about this plant, please leave a comment. Comments have to be approved before they are shown here.