Sheep's Sorrel, Red Sorrel, Sour Weed

Rumex acetosella

Family: Polygonaceae
Genus: Rumex (ROO-meks) (Info)
Species: acetosella (a-kee-TOE-sell-uh) (Info)
Synonym:Acetosella vulgaris




Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


6-12 in. (15-30 cm)

12-18 in. (30-45 cm)


18-24 in. (45-60 cm)


Unknown - Tell us

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun

Sun to Partial Shade

Light Shade


All parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:


Bloom Time:

Late Spring/Early Summer

Mid Summer

Late Summer/Early Fall

Mid Fall

Late Fall/Early Winter



Other details:

May be a noxious weed or invasive

Soil pH requirements:

5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall

From seed; winter sow in vented containers, coldframe or unheated greenhouse

Direct sow as soon as the ground can be worked

From seed; sow indoors before last frost

From seed; direct sow after last frost

Self-sows freely; deadhead if you do not want volunteer seedlings next season

Seed Collecting:

Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Bigelow, Arkansas

Bartow, Florida

Braselton, Georgia

Cumberland, Maryland

Bridgewater, Massachusetts

Jay, Oklahoma

Salem, Oregon

Millersburg, Pennsylvania

Wynnewood, Pennsylvania

Aiken, South Carolina

Conway, South Carolina

York, South Carolina

Moneta, Virginia

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Jul 15, 2013, DannyJoe from York, SC (Zone 7b) wrote:

Thanks for the warnings about invasiveness.

Adds a nice zing to salads.
Used to treat Sinusitis (inflammation of the sinuses) and cancer.


On Nov 11, 2009, encartaphile from Marshfield, MO wrote:

On a positive note about this plant, it is one of the four ingredients in the Ojibwa tea of life, used as an immune system tonic and potentially a cure for cancer. PlantFiles has it listed that all parts of the plant are poisonous, but so far the only reference to anyone being poisoned by this plant that I have found were some sheep in New Zealand. Apparently, in rare instances a high concentration of nitrates can accumulate in the plant and cause poisoning. Also, a large quantity of oxalates (such as those consumed by sheep on a sorrel binge) can cause calcium deficiency, renal failure and nervous disorders. So as long as you're not a sheep presented with a whole field of sorrel, it doesn't sound like a few cups of Native American tea would do you any real ha... read more


On Apr 27, 2006, MotherNature4 from Bartow, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

I would not want this in my yard, but it grows in fields around here. I used to gather the blooms & leaves, boil them, then use the strained liquid to make a delicious and beautiful jelly.


On Apr 26, 2006, berrygirl from Braselton, GA (Zone 7b) wrote:

Is there a rating worse than negative? This weed has been a nightmare for me for about 3 years now. It has overtaken several flower beds and a good portion of grass. We have pulled and dug so many times and probably put down a million pages of newspaper trying to keep it from coming back. The runner roots go for miles!


On Sep 25, 2005, CaptMicha from Brookeville, MD (Zone 7a) wrote:

These weed is horribly invasive. It grows anywhere, under any conditions.

If you try to remove a plant, it gets cut off below the soil line and you get more plants in place of that one.


On Jan 29, 2003, Heels from Newton, NJ wrote:

This is an indicator of increased soil acidity in lawns (useful as a diagnostic)


On Oct 1, 2001, Baa wrote:

A perennial from Europe and can be found in almost all temperate regions across the world.

Has arrow shaped, light-mid green, leaves which often turn red in Autumn. Bears spikes of reddish, tiny flowers.

Flowers May-August.

Loves acid soil and may tolerate neutral soil, well drained and poorish soil are preferred. Likes grassland and loves lawns, where it will march rapidly gaining large portions of territory if not kept in check.

The leaves are used in cooking and leaves can be chewed to quench thirst, it contains quite a few minerals the main one being selenium. It has a bitter taste so don't be too free with its useage. It is used in soups and salads mainly and is more palatable than common sorrel.

It has a... read more