Information on Sheep's Sorrel

Common Name: Sheep's Sorrel
Scientific Name: Rumex acetosella
Irish Name: Samhadh caorach
Family Group: Polygonaceae
Distribution: View Map (Courtesy of the BSBI)
Flowering Period


Click for list of all flowering by month
Sheep's Sorrel could sometimes be confused with:

Sorrel, Common,

‘A characteristic plant of arid mountain tops and ridges in the granite districts’  was how this plant was described by Nathaniel Colgan in his 1904 Flora of the Couny Dublin. Rarely found on lime, it grows on well-drained sandy soils, heaths and grassland. It’s an upright, perennial plant which, from May to August, bears tiny, reddish-greenish flowers in loose panicles, the male and female flowers being on separate plants. The male flowers, which have three sepals, three petals and six stamens, produce plenty of pollen, the females being wind-pollinated. The female flowers have an ovary in the centre, occupying the place where the stamens are in the male flower. The distinctive, oblong leaves are arrow-shaped, twice as long as wide and have forward-pointing lobes. It grows to a height of 30 cm, is a native plant and it belongs to the Polygonaceae family.

I first recorded this species in Corr na Móna, County Galway in 2009 and I photographed it there and 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, Sheep's
Sorrel, Sheep's

Poisonous if eating in quantity, this plant was recommended by 17 century herbalist, Nicholas Culpeper who wrote ‘Both roots and seeds, as well as the herb, are held powerful to resist the poison of the scorpion. A syrup made with the juice of Sorrel and fumitory, is a sovereign help to kill those sharp humouts that cause the itch’. Please don’t try this at home!