Common sorrel or garden sorrel (Rumex acetosa), often simply called sorrel, is a perennial herb that is cultivated as a garden herb or leaf vegetable (pot herb). Other names for sorrel includespinach dock and narrow-leaved dock.
Sorrel is a slender plant about 60 cm high, with roots that run deep into the ground, as well as juicy stems and edible, oblong leaves. The lower leaves are 7 to 15 cm in length, slightly arrow-shaped at the base, with very long petioles. The upper ones are sessile, and frequently become crimson. The leaves are eaten by the larvae of several species of Lepidoptera (butterfly and moth) including the blood-vein moth.
It has whorled spikes of reddish-green flowers, which bloom in summer, becoming purplish. The stamens and pistils are on different plants (dioecious); the ripe seeds are brown and shining.
Common sorrel has been cultivated for centuries. The leaves may be puréed in soups and sauces or added to salads; they have a flavour that is similar to kiwifruit or sour wild strawberries. The plant’s sharp taste is due to oxalic acid, which is a poison. In small quantities sorrel is harmless; in large quantities it can be fatal.