Rumex Acetosa: Growing Sour Sorrel

| 7/4/2012 5:24:23 PM

H.CardenasHeidi Cardenas is a freelance writer and gardener in Lake County, Illinois, with a background in human resources. She has written about gardening for various online venues and enjoys The Herb Companion’s valuable resources. 

Sorrel has many common names, including cuckoo’s meat, sour grabs, sour weed and sour suds. It gets its reputation as a sour green from its high concentration in acid oxalate of potash and tartaric and tannic acids, as well as vitamin C. It has been grown since medieval times as a kitchen herb and medicinal plant. There are several varieties of sorrel, but two of the most common are garden sorrel (Rumex acetosa) and French sorrel (Rumex scutatus). The two are commonly confused but they are different, as garden sorrel is a much larger plant and French sorrel only grows to about 2 feet tall. They both produce large green leaves that have a lemony lettuce flavor.

Sorrel produces pink to purple flowers on tall stalks. It is native to Europe and Asia, and is used widely in French cuisines and kitchen gardens.

Sorrel Plant 7-11-2012 


Growing Sorrel

Sorrel is a leafy green perennial herb with long roots. It’s easy to propagate by dividing the roots or by sowing seeds in light, rich warm soil in the spring. The plants grow in clumps, forming mounds from a central base. Clipping leaves for salads and cooking throughout the growing season encourages a bushy plant. When the plant produces flower stalks in mid-summer, the whole plant should be cut back to encourage tender new growth for cooking. Garden sorrel prefers moist, damp soils, while French sorrel prefers dry soil in a sunny location.