Sheep Sorrel (Rumex Acetosella)
I recently found this lush patch of Sheep Sorrel, a common weed that is usually voted the most delicious edible during my Foraging Workshops, with even kids enjoying it. You only need to eat one tiny leaf to set your tastebuds off, with a tart, astringent, lemony taste, similar to a sour-apple flavor.
Part of the Polygonaceae (Buckwheat family), in the Rumex species (like Dock). Sheep Sorrel is also known as Field Sorrel or Sour-weed, latin name Rumex acetosella / Acetosella vulgaris.
As the name suggests, sorrel, stemming from the French word ‘surele’ means sour, and the Italian ‘acetosa’ means vinegary. This plant is definitely sour & vinegary tasting.
Sorrels have been eaten by humans for over 4,000 years, and is one of the most common wild plants growing in grasslands in Europe & Asia.
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.
Boasting a sour, acidic, slightly bitter flavor & 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 of the succulent above ground parts 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 with fish. Available Spring to Autumn.
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.
Also reported to have anticancer, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antioxidant properties. That's some pretty impressive claims from this tiny, very common & abundant weed.
Do note that the Rumex family Sorrel is high in oxalates eat in moderation.
Unfortunately this plant (like many in the Rumex family) invades native areas and displaces native plants, by creating dense carpets on bare ground, thereby reducing grazing capacity. The abundance of this plant Indicates that the soil is very low in calcium and phosphate & high in potassium & magnesium.