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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.  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.


2 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.

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