Rumex acetosa

Common Name: sorrel 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Polygonaceae
Native Range: Northern Temperate regions
Zone: 3 to 7
Height: 1.50 to 2.00 feet
Spread: 1.50 to 2.00 feet
Bloom Time: June to August
Bloom Description: Green turning reddish with age
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Annual, Herb, Naturalize
Flower: Showy


Easily grown in average, medium, well-drained soil in full sun. Self-seeds and can spread in the garden. Remove flowers immediately to promote leaf growth.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Rumex acetosa, commonly called sorrel, garden sorrel or sour dock, is a perennial herb that is primarily grown as a culinary herb for its leaves which are used in salads and cooking. Plants grow to 2' tall and produce basal clumps of 4-6", arrowhead-shaped leaves and long, spike-like, terminal clusters of greenish flowers which turn reddish with age. Leaves have a tangy, acidic, sour-lemony flavor and are commonly used in salads, soups, omelets and sauces. Youngest leaves have the best flavor. Many food experts prefer French sorrel (Rumex scutatus) to the within species for culinary purposes. French sorrel is less acidic.

Genus name comes from the Latin name.

Specific epithet comes from the Latin acetum meaning vinegar. The leaves have a sour taste.


No serious insect or disease problems. Notwithstanding culinary uses, this plant is considered by many to be an aggressive weed.


Grown in the herb or vegetable garden. Flower spikes can produce a somewhat showy effect with a large planting. Can also be grown well in containers.