Common name: Common Sorrel

Scientific name: Rumex acetosa

Family: Polygonaceae (Docks)

This inconspicuous green leaf is a treat in salad!


Common sorrel grows in grasslands. It is a hairless perennial with small oval leaves (4-12cm long) with triangular tails where the leaf meets the stem. The flower stalk can be 30-80cm high with spikes of red or yellowish tiny flower and small leaves clasping the stem.


Sorrel comes from the Anglo-saxon words meaning sour-all. It has a sharp lemony flavour that gets the tastebuds going. The leaves are best picked young before the flower stalk forms and form a mainstay of French cooking, going into salads, soups, omelettes and as sauce or butter for fish dishes. 

Medicinal uses:

Sorrel is rich in Vitamin C, which prevents scurvy and keeps connective tissue healthy. It stimulates the liver and pancreas to aid digestion. A word of warning – sorrel and its relatives (including rhubarb) contain oxalic acid, which binds to minerals in the digestive tract and prevents their absorption (and can build up into kidney stones). For this reason, limit sorrel to a weekly treat, rather than a daily staple.


Sorrel soup (from

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, 1/2 cup chopped green onions, ramps or other wild onion, 

4-6 cups of chopped sorrel, Salt, 3 tablespoons flour, 1 quart chicken stock or vegetable stock,

2 egg yolks, 1/2 cup cream

Melt 3 tablespoons butter in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the green onions or ramps and turn the heat to medium-low. Cover the pot and cook gently for 10 minutes. While the onions are cooking, pour the stock into another pot and bring to a simmer. Turn the heat up, add the sorrel leaves and a healthy pinch of salt to the onions and stir well. When the sorrel is mostly wilted, turn the heat back to medium-low, cover and cook 10 minutes. Stir occasionally. Mix in the flour and cook over medium heat for 3 minutes. Whisk in the hot stock, stirring constantly. Bring this to a simmer. To finish the soup, whisk together the egg yolks and cream. Temper the mixture by ladling a little soup into it with one hand, while you whisk the egg-cream mix with the other. Repeat this three times. (You are doing this to prevent the eggs from scrambling) Now start whisking the soup. Pour the hot egg-cream-soup mixture into the pot with the soup, whisking all the way. Add the final tablespoon of butter. Let this cook — below a simmer — for 5 minutes. Do not let it boil or the soup will break. Serve at once.

(Part of Douglas Tidy Town’s Foraging Trail)