Red or Sheep Sorrel, Rumex acetosella
Polygonaceae or Buckwheat Family


Small, upright plant, about a foot tall. Stem jointed. Leaves somewhat succulent, not opposite each other, lance shaped, many of the lower leaves with two finger-like projections at the base. Flowers very small, in clusters at the top of the plant, Each flower has 6 red and green petal-like sepals, and no true petals. Male and female flowers may be on different plants. Fruit a reddish flattened pod. Blooms in mid-spring.

An alien weed, introduced from Europe. Formerly eaten in salads and as a potherb. It has a tart flavor, and contains much vitamin C, but also contains oxalic acid, which is poisonous in large amounts. In Wildwood, occasional along the bikeway and in the Great South Meadow. Also a common roadside and garden weed.

The short stature and tiny reddish flowers and fruits make this plant easy to identify. Other members of this genus in the Park are much larger plants. Cultivated garden sorrel (R. acetosa) is also a relative.

Leaves Inflorescence Leaf

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