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Rumex acetosella

Rumex acetosella L.

Acetosella acetosella (L.) Small

Acetosella tenuifolia (Wallr.) A. Löve

Acetosella vulgaris Fourr.

Rumex acetosella L. ssp. angiocarpus (Murb.) Murb.

Rumex acetosella L. var. pyrenaeus (Pourr.) Timbal-Lagrave

Rumex acetosella L. var. tenuifolius Wallr.

Rumex angiocarpus Murb.

Rumex tenuifolius (Wallr.) A. Löve

Red Sorrel, Sheep Sorrel, Sour Weed, Field Sorrel

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae (from Stearn’s Botanical Latin)
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassMagnoliopsidaDicotyledons—plants with two initial seed leaves
SubclassCaryophyllidaeCacti, many other succulents, carnivorous plants, and leadworts
OrderCaryophyllalesIncludes cacti, carnations, amaranths, ice plants, and many carnivorous plants
FamilyPolygonaceaeKnotweed or smartweed family
GenusRumexAncient Latin for “docks or sorrels”
SpeciesacetosellaFrom an old name for plants with acidic leaves

About plant names...

Sheep sorrel is native to Eurasia, introduced to North America and now common here.

Identification: Sheep sorrel is an early colonizer of disturbed soil, such as railroad beds, roadsides, and mining sites, with a preference for wet or seasonally wet areas. It is up to 18" (45 cm) in height, often closer to half that height, with a few pale silver-colored lance-shaped leaves. Some of the leaves at the base are hastate, like an arrow with two barbs at the bottom. Flowers occur in spikes about 3-8" (7.6-20 cm) tall, tightly branched. Male flowers are yellowish-green, and female flowers are red to maroon. Fruits are also maroon. Although the individual flowers are minute in size, less than ⅛" (3.2 mm), large patches of sheep sorrel look like a rust-colored haze near the ground.

Edibility: Raw or cooked, small quantities add a tart, lemon-like flavor to salads. Poisonous in large quantities. Contains oxalic acid, which gives the plants a bitter, acidic taste.

Online References:

Rumex acetosella on Missouriplants.com

Rumex acetosella at Illinois Wildflowers

Rumex acetosella on the Virginia Tech Weed Identification Guide

Rumex acetosella on Forest and Kim Starr’s Starr Environmental site

Rumex acetosella on the USDA Forest Service's Fire Effects Information Database

Rumex acetosella on Plants for a Future, a resource and information centre for edible and otherwise useful plants

Rumex acetosella on luirig.altervista.org

Rumex acetosella on eFloras

References:

Newcomb, Lawrence, Morrison, Gordon (Illus.), Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide, Little, Brown and Company, 1977, p. 402

Rumex acetosella (Red Sorrel, Sheep Sorrel, Sour Weed, Field Sorrel)

5/13/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton Center, Groton, MA
≈ 15 × 10" (39 × 26 cm)

Rumex acetosella (Red Sorrel, Sheep Sorrel, Sour Weed, Field Sorrel)

6/13/2016 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton Center, Groton, MA

Rumex acetosella (Red Sorrel, Sheep Sorrel, Sour Weed, Field Sorrel)

6/5/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton Center, Groton, MA
≈ 7 × 9" (18 × 21 cm) ID is uncertain

Rumex acetosella (Red Sorrel, Sheep Sorrel, Sour Weed, Field Sorrel)

6/13/2016 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton Center, Groton, MA

Rumex acetosella description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 5 Oct 2016.

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Rumex acetosella (Red Sorrel, Sheep Sorrel, Sour Weed, Field Sorrel)

6/5/2013 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton Center, Groton, MA
≈ 6 × 9" (16 × 23 cm)

Rumex acetosella (Red Sorrel, Sheep Sorrel, Sour Weed, Field Sorrel)

5/15/1979 · VA · By Tim Chandler

Rumex acetosella (Red Sorrel, Sheep Sorrel, Sour Weed, Field Sorrel)

6/5/2013 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton Center, Groton, MA
≈ 6 × 9" (16 × 23 cm)

Rumex acetosella (Red Sorrel, Sheep Sorrel, Sour Weed, Field Sorrel)

6/16/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton Center, Groton, MA
≈ 6 × 4" (15 × 10 cm) ID is uncertain

Rumex acetosella (Red Sorrel, Sheep Sorrel, Sour Weed, Field Sorrel)

5/13/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton Center, Groton, MA
≈ 9 × 6" (23 × 15 cm)

Rumex acetosella (Red Sorrel, Sheep Sorrel, Sour Weed, Field Sorrel)

5/30/2014 · Townsend Wildlife Management Area, Townsend, MA
≈ 4 × 6" (10 × 14 cm)

Rumex acetosella (Red Sorrel, Sheep Sorrel, Sour Weed, Field Sorrel)

6/8/2012 · Townsend Wildlife Management Area, Townsend, MA
≈ 4 × 5" (10 × 13 cm)

Rumex acetosella (Red Sorrel, Sheep Sorrel, Sour Weed, Field Sorrel)

6/1/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton Center, Groton, MA
≈ 21 × 14" (52 × 34 cm) ID is uncertain

Range:

About this map...