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Common Sorrel

Edible Edible Autumn Autumn Spring Spring Summer Summer Winter Winter

The name ‘common’ really does describe this plant and we can usually find it in any grass type environment at any time of year save a very harsh winter or a drought over summer.Β  See Other Facts below before consumption.

Hedgerow Type
Common Names Common Sorrel, Garden Sorrel, Narrow Leaved Dock, Spinach Dock
Scientific Name Rumex acetosa
Season Start Jan
Season End Dec
Please note that each and every hedgerow item you come across may vary in appearance to these photos.


The leaves can be long and arrow shaped or when young, shorter and more rounded but at the base of the leaf it always has pointed ‘tails’ which is a key identifying feature of this plant. The leaves have a shiny appearance and are usually green but can develop red features.


In summer sorrel develops spikes of many small red to yellow flowers.

Flower Stem

The plant grows as a rosette and only really has a flower stem in summer.


Small red, green or cream winged seeds that can be carried on the wind easily.


Meadows, fields, parks, lawns and sometimes open woodland.

Possible Confusion

The leaves are very similar to Meadow Bindweed (in the photo) but this is a sprawling plant that grows along the ground or climbing through grasses. The leaves of Meadow Bindweed grow in spiral around the stem and it has white petaled flowers. Sorrel grows as a rosette and the flowers are small, round and red/green/yellow.

Large mature sorrel leaves can look a bit like young Lords & Ladies leaves. The sharply pointed “tails” (lobes) of sorrel leaves distinguish it from the rounded lobes of the Lords & Ladies leaves.


Sharp and citrus, described by many as like apple peel.


Very common as the name suggests.


Younger smaller leaves are the best for salads, all leaves can be used but the flower stem leaves can become a little bitter.

Medicinal Uses

Sorrel has diuretic properties and can be used to treat sinusitis, it was also used in the past to prevent and treat scurvy.

Other Facts

All the sorrels contain oxalic acid and should be avoided by people prone to kidney stones but with most of these things the amount of oxalic acid is tiny and oxalic acid can be found in spinach, cabbage, rhubarb, beans, coffee and chocolate, none of which has a health warning about the oxalic acid content.
Sorrel can be used as a garnish, a salad leaf, a green for a great soup, stews or as a sweet ingredient for cakes and sorbets.


14 comments for Common Sorrel

  1. Ferment4Life says:

    In some countries sorrel is another name for Hibiscus.

  2. G Clarke says:

    Thank you, this was very helpful.

  3. Carole Chamaillard says:

    How do I harvest it? I have a pot with a large plant in it. Do I take leaves and dry them? How? Can it be used as a tea? Need recipes please?

    1. Eric Biggane says:

      I find Sorrel leaves lose their taste after drying, they are best used fresh. I haven’t made a tea with them but there is a recipe for Sorrel soup which is savoury, even with Sorrels sweet/sour taste, and delicious. I can’t remember the recipe but I found it on the internet.

    2. Asta Saulis says:

      If you want recipes, you can find me on Facebook (Asta Saulis) & send me a message. In Lithuania, sorrel soup is one of the National dishes. In the U.S., I sometimes replace it with spinach (with lemon juice) – my son loves it. And we preserve sorrel also for winter – usually with salt in glass jars. You can buy those at some European stores, although they tend to be a bit woody. Should try to pick young leaves, as those are better. Sorrel grows in meadows, but you can also buy seeds and grow it in your own garden – we always had it at home.

  4. Rita says:

    I’m in London, and it would be great if anyone would suggest nearby places where I could pick wild sorrel?

    1. Eric Biggane says:

      Wild Sorrel can be found growing in parks, fields, lawns and almost anywhere grass grows, it is very common so you should be able to find some near you although it won’t be easy to find until Spring.

  5. Tim manning says:

    Rick Stein showed a great Sorrell soup recipe from Burgundy on Saturday kitchen circa 16th Jan 2021. The French use it straight from the hedgerow as it’s impossible to buy.

    1. Emma Barnsley says:

      Amazing, I’m yet to try it. This year I will, I’ve only been foraging for wild plants and mushrooms since last summer. But I’ve foragerd wild berries for year’s to make jams and wine. I’ll definitely have look up this episode πŸ™‚

  6. Robert Zabinec says:

    When I was a lot younger, I used to go walking in the country with my father, who was Ukrainian.
    We used to pick sorrel from the local fields where I used to live with my parents, brothers and sister ☺️.
    We used to get lots, so the parents could make a very hearty soup, using boiling bacon, diced potatoes etc beautiful πŸ˜‹πŸ˜‹πŸ˜‹

  7. Frank Dalrymple says:

    Looking for name of plant, thought it was sorrel but plant I have has bright red veins. Long and narrow leaves, a Brit told me that the leaves were edible and often used in soups and salads.

    1. Eric Biggane says:

      I would need to see photos to be certain but sorrel can have red veins and narrow leaves. The best ID is the very pointed ‘tails’ (the base of the leaf near the stem) and an apple peel taste.

  8. steve macsweeney says:

    Good advice thank you. How can I apply for future foraging courses?

    1. Eric Biggane says:

      Check our foraging courses page and find a venue near you. If the courses are full we do have a waiting list for people who drop out, this happens quite often as people book in advance and then find they can’t attend on the day.

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