Garden sorrel is grown for its tangy, edible leaves. Tender young leaves add a lemony bite to fresh salads, and older leaves can be braised or added to soups. Garden sorrel forms clumps of large, dark green, arrowhead-shaped leaves. In mid to late summer, it produces upright flower stalks topped with clusters of small, unremarkable greenish flowers. It’s best to cut off the flower stalks before they bloom so that the plant’s energy will be directed to leaf production rather than flowering and also to prevent its aggressive reseeding in the garden.
Common name: Garden sorrel
Botanical name: Rumex acetosa
Plant type: herbaceous perennial
Zones: 4 to 8
Height: 2 feet
• Sun: Full sun
• Soil: Average
• Moisture: Evenly moist, well drained
• Mulch: None
• Pruning: None
• Fertilizer: Top-dress with compost in spring.
Pests and diseases
• Slugs and snails occasionally damage leaves.
• ‘Sorrel De Belleville’ (French selection)
• ‘Blonde de Lyon’ (French selection)
• ‘Rhubarb Pie’ has variegated leaves
• Plant sorrel with other perennial edibles like rhubarb and asparagus in a separate section of the vegetable garden so they won’t be disturbed.
• Grow sorrel and other herbs in pots on your deck or patio so they’re easy to reach from the kitchen.
All in the family
• Garden sorrel is a member of the buckwheat family (Polygonaceae).
• Other plants in the buckwheat family include rhubarb, silver fleece vine (Polygonum aubertii), and buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum), which has edible seeds that can be ground and used like wheat flour.
Where to buy
• Georgia Vines, Claxton, GA, 912-342-3762, www.georgiavines.com
• Park Seed, Greenwood, SC, 800-845-3369, www.parkseed.com
• Richters, Goodwood, Ontario, CAN, 800-668-4372, www.richters.com
• Victory Seed Garden, Molalla, OR, www.victoryseeds.com
(Photo of garden sorrel by Elizabeth Noll)