Sorrel

Rumex acetosa

About

Common Sorrel is a common, upright plant, often found in grasslands and along woodland edges and roadside verges. It has slender leaves and attractive flowers that appear in May and June, peppering the green grasses of our meadows with crimson and pink. Its numerous other common names, from 'Sour Ducks' to 'Vinegar Plant', all allude to the fact that its leaves taste extremely tart and dry due to their high levels of oxalic acid.

How to identify

Common Sorrel is a perennial with arrow-shaped leaves that grow from the stem at the base of the plant. Reddish flowers are carried on slender spikes.

Where to find it

Widespread.

Habitats

When to find it

  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August

How can people help

Many of our so-called 'weeds' are beneficial to wildlife, providing food for nectar-loving insects and shelter for minibeasts. Try leaving wilder areas in your garden, such as patches of flowers in your lawn, Stinging Nettles near the compost heap and Common Sorrel in the vegetable patch, and see who comes to visit... To find out more about wildlife-friendly gardening, visit our Wild About Gardens website: a joint initiative with the RHS, there's plenty of facts and tips to get you started.

Species information

Common name
Sorrel
Latin name
Rumex acetosa
Category
Wildflowers
Statistics
Height: up to 60cm
Conservation status
Common.