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Rumex acetosa (common sorrel)

Common sorrel is today used in sauces and as a spinach or salad leaf; the sap can be used as a laundry stain-remover.
Rumex acetosa

Rumex acetosa (common sorrel)

Species information

Common name: 

common sorrel

Conservation status: 

Least concern; common and widespread.


Grassland, coastal dunes and cliffs.

Key Uses: 

Food, herbal medicine.

Known hazards: 

The presence of oxalic acid in the plant may pose risks for people with rheumatic-type complaints, kidney or bladder stones.


Genus: Rumex

About this species

Rumex acetosa, also known as common sorrel, is a herbaceous plant native to the British Isles. It was once cultivated as a vegetable but is now merely a wild food plant; it is also used in herbal medicine for its diuretic properties.

The species belongs to a group of plants commonly known as docks. They can be bisexual or have male or female flowers on separate plants. The leaves of the common sorrel are acidic to taste and contain high levels of oxalic acid. The larvae of several species of butterflies and moths, including the blood-vein moth, feed on the leaves of sorrel.

Medicinal Uses

The leaves are used in herbal medicine for their cooling and diuretic properties. They were once eaten to prevent or treat scurvy. Sorrel is also used to treat sinusitis and cancer.


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