Rumex acetosella

Sheep Sorrel, sorrel, field sorrel, red sorrel, sour weed

Description: herbaceous perennial; grows up to 2 feet high.  Leaves are 1-3 inches long and have arrowhead-like shape, although are highly variable in shape, said to resemble a sheep’s face. Produces numerous small yellow-green and red flowers and one-seeded fruits. 

Place of origin: Europe

Urban habitat: Thrives in disturbed landscapes and roadsides.

Ecological function:  disturbance-adapted colonizer; food for wildlife.

History:  Rumex acetosella is widely naturalized in other parts of the world including North America. Sheep Sorrel is a detoxifying herb and the juice of its leaves acts as a diuretic. The plant has a long history of medicinal use wherever it grows, including as a key ingredient in the Canadian invention Essiac Tea, a cancer remedy. It was consumed and used medicinally by many Native American tribes.