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Sheeps Sorrel

A common plant of bare or sparsley grassed acid soils and having a distinctive reddsh apperarance



  • Sheeps Sorrel: the sour weed

    Post date: Thursday, 28 January, 2016 - 00:00

    Where there are bare patches of ground on the heath, often alongside footpaths, or sparsely grassy places then you may well find sheep's sorrel (Rumex acetosella); it certainly thrives on acid soils. It is a common plant and where it occurs it is usually quite well established.

    Sheep's sorrel is a member of the dock family and its maroon flowers quickly give way to red seeds and the whole plant takes on a reddish-brown hue giving the appearance of being withered and finished when actually it is still quite active. The leaves are shaped like an arrowhead and I recall, as a lad, we used to bite them to release a bitter taste, we called it the vinegar plant! It is apparently also known as sour weed and the taste comes from oxalic acid. It is a small plant, rarely growing to no more than a few inches tall. It is much smaller than its similar relative, common sorrel.

    It seems to be well thought of as a medicinal herb and is used for anti-cancer therapy, as an anti-inflammatory agent, an anti-bacterial agent and immune system booster, an all round good egg it seems!



Common Name Sheeps Sorrel
Scientific Name Rumex acetosella
Species Group Dock Family Polygonaceae
Interest Level
Look for
Identification Notes
Primary Habitat
Family Dock family - Polygonaceae
Status Locally common
Flower Colour Group Brown
  • 05 - May
  • 06 - June
  • 07 - July
  • 08 - August
Preferred Environment
Look for Small slender flower spikes with reddish brown flowers.
Additional Identification Notes
Similar Species

The records for this species have been organised into reports, charts, maps and photos. Click a pic below to see the detail:

Notebook Distribution Map Sites List Some Charts Some Photographs Recent Records Guidance Notes

To see related species click here: 

Dock Family Polygonaceae