Common Sorrel (Rumex acetosa) Identification

Common Sorrel / Spring / Summer / Autumn / Winter / Edible


How to Identify Common Sorrel

Botanical Name

Rumex acetosa

Known Hazards

This plant contains Oxalic acid, similar to rhubarb, giving it its’ sour taste, if you ingest too much of this acid you can upset your stomach. Saying that, you would have to eat a serious amount of common sorrel to get to this point. To be avoided by anyone with kidney disease, kidney stones, rheumatoid arthritis, or gout, or those taking blood thinners.

Could be confused with

Has the potential to be confused with lords and ladies, which also holds a strongly arrow shaped leaf, however lords and ladies is often found in woodlands, is much darker green in colour, has deep veins and is generally much larger in size.

Range and Distribution

Uk, Most of Europe (specifically Northern), Northern America and most of Asia.


Open grassland and lawns

Physical Characteristics

This perennial can reach a full height of 50cm however it is often found being much smaller.


The arrow shaped leaves, from 2-6cm are smooth with sharp tails at its base, they grow from one central spot giving a rosette of approx. 15-30cm.


If allowed to grow the plant will shoot a reddish upright stem from its centre, up to 50cm long.

Flowers & Seeds

Up the stem there will be yellowish or reddish flowers, minute and look very similar to the seeds which are red in colour.

AnRo0002, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons
Ivar Leidus, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

Edible Use:

Leaves: Edible salads, sauces, smoothies, juiced, cakes, icing
Flower: All of the above


It’s a diuretic and has antiscorbutic properties as well has having a great cooling ability. It’s been used to calm stomach upsets.

Identification is key!

Maybe you'd like to join us for some hands-on Foraging?

Find our Up coming Courses here