Sheep Sorrel

Sheep Sorrel (Rumex Acetosella)

This common weed is usually voted the most favorite edible weed by my workshop participants, and even kids this weekend. You only need to eat one tiny leaf to get an amazing hit of flavor, and thank goodness, because it's so small you wouldn't want to muck around harvesting a lot of it!

Part of the Polygonaceae (Buckwheat family), in the Rumex species (like Dock).

Ancient Romans, Greeks, and others have been adding this to dishes for it's amazing flavor & also medicinal properties for centuries. It was well regarded by King Henry VIII until French Sorrel (Rumex scutatus) was introduced & became more popular with it's much larger leaves.

Sheep Sorrel has a sour, acidic, slightly bitter flavor, with a tart lemony flavor, it gives a sharp hit to any dish. Try nibbling a leaf next time you spot it for a thirst quenching kick.

Use a small amount raw in salads, add to pestos, dips, salad dressings, for it's sharp flavor. Otherwise you can add to soups and stews (it looses some tartness when cooked). It's an excellent accompaniment to fish.

Sheep Sorrel is high in Vitamin C with cooling, astringent, diuretic & mildly laxative properties. It can be drunk as an infusion to relieve fevers & quench thirst, or as a gargle for mouth ulcers.

Rumex Acetosella has some pretty incredible claims to fame. It's reported as  the most potent antioxidant herbs known. It's become well known as one of the main ingredients in 'Essiac',  a formula created by the Ojibwa tribe of Native Americans in Canada in 1922 to treat cancers. Sheep Sorrel is reputed to be anticancer, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antioxidant. That's some pretty impressive properties from this tiny, very common & abundant weed.

Rumex Acetosella has very distinctive arrowhead shaped leaves, with 3 lobes. They're toothless with alternate leaves running up the stalks and a papery sheath where the leaves meet the stem (similar to dock). The veins run lengthwise. In Spring the plant sends up it's seed stalk which is covered in bright red little seeds, looking much like mini dock seeds, it's close relative.

Do note that the Rumex family Sorrel is high in oxalates eat in moderation.