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Sorrel, French

(Rumex scutatus)


French Sorrel is a perennial with shield-shaped leaf blades on long sturdy petioles that grow in a rosette from a large taproot, which reaches 1-1⁄2' — 2' in length. Seed stalks arise that greatly resemble the related wild dock species. In the garden, it is grown for the leaves, which have an acidic, “lemony” flavor.


Seed may be started in flats or sown in the garden as soon as soil can be worked in the spring. Plant 1 inch deep, and thin or transplant seedlings to 1' apart in full sun in fairly rich soil. Cut back seed stalks to keep plants producing fresh greens. Divide every 3 — 4 years. A non-seeding variety, ‘Profusion,’ is available (plants only) that produces no seed stalks, only leaves, not wasting any energy on flowering and seed production.


Classic use is in a French sorrel soup. It is also eaten raw in salads or cooked like spinach. Also like spinach, the leaves contain oxalic acid, which can aggravate gout, kidney stones, and arthritis. Leaves should be used sparingly if oxalic acid in the diet is a problem for individuals. Use sorrel to spice up other dishes rather than as the main item.