Champaign-Urbana Herb Society
Herb of the Month - Sorrel - September 1998
SORREL (Rumex acetosa)
Sorrel is an herb about which I have heard very little. Last summer I happened to spot a sorrel plant and decided to add it to my garden. I didnŐt use the leaves until this year, when I needed some greens for a sandwich I was making. I plucked off three or four leaves and put them on the turkey sandwich. Since that time, I havenŐt bothered with lettuce anymore! The leaves are somewhat firm and possess a nice bite of tangy lemon flavor. Arrow-shaped leaves contain potassium, vitamins A, B1 and C, and oxalic acid.
It has a taproot. The leaves start out bland tasting in the spring, but as summer wears on, the citrus taste develops. Leaves can be cooked like spinach with one change of water. Rumor has it that on hot summer days, haymakers would frequently eat the succulent leaves to quench their thirst.
Sorrel also reduces fevers and is taken as a diuretic tea for some kidney and liver problems. A poultice treats acne, mouth ulcers, boils and infected wounds. The root is a mild laxative. The French use sorrel for sauces and in sorrel soup.
Propagate by division of roots or sow seed. The plant likes full sun and moist soil. Sorrel is a hardy perennial and grows to about 18 inches tall. Sources say that sorrel can become invasive in the garden, but personally I would say GREAT! Sorrel does not dry well but can be frozen.
Thanks to Lisa Braddock for this report. She thanks Readers Digest Home Handbooks: Herbs; Eyewitness Handbooks: Herbs; and HPBooks: Herbs, How to Select, Grow and Enjoy; all of which she says are very good references.
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