Information on Common Sorrel

Common Name: Common Sorrel
Scientific Name: Rumex acetosa
Irish Name: Samhadh bó
Family Group: Polygonaceae
Distribution: View Map (Courtesy of the BSBI)
Flowering Period


Click for list of all flowering by month
Common Sorrel could sometimes be confused with:

Sorrel, Sheep's,

This is one of those plants regarded by most people as a weed. Not a flower for picking and putting in a vase, it is basically a tall (60–100 cm), slender spike of tiny reddish flowers which are on display from May to August. It is found in a variety of habitats from the sides of our motorways to coastal shingle and arable ground. Identified by its distinctive leaves (4–7 cm long) which are deep green and arrow-shaped, with a sharp, vinegary taste. The lobes of the leaves point backwards slightly, the upper leaves clasping the stem. The seeds are reddish and oval. This is a native plant which belongs to the Polygonaceae family.  

I first recorded this wildflower in Roundwood, County Wicklow in 1978 and photographed it in Dalkey, County Dublin in 2010. 

If you are satisfied you have correctly identified this plant, please submit your sighting to the National Biodiversity Data Centre

Sorrel, Common
Sorrel, Common

Culpeper’s Complete Herbal discusses Sorrel as follows: ‘Sorrel is prevalent in all hot diseases, to cool any inflammation and heat of blood in agues pestilential or choleric, or sickness and fainting, arising from heat, and to refresh the overspent spirits with the violence of furious or fiety fits of agues; to quench thirst, and procure an appetite in fainting or decay in stomachs’.