French Sorrel (Rumex scutatus). Sorrel is a short-lived perennial, hardy to Zone 4. Sorrel is grown for its tart, citrusy-flavoured leaves used raw in salads or cooked like spinach, and forms the basis of the famous French sorrel soup.
Cultivation: Grow sorrel in well-drained soil, in full sun or part-shade, and water deeply for good leaf production. Sow seeds directly in the garden or start them indoors three weeks before the last frost date. Sorrel forms a clump 60 centimetres by 30 centimetres. Every three to four years, divide the clumps in spring or fall to promote new growth. Sorrel can also be grown successfully in pots.
Leaves may be harvested any time from spring until fall, with young leaves tasting better than older ones. Flowers should be removed before they mature or else the plant will stop producing new leaves.
The variety of sorrel known as red veined dock (Rumex sanguineus var sanguineus) is grown primarily for its attractive, red-veined leaves, which are also edible. This variety self-seeds easily and can become invasive.
Important note: The tangy flavour of sorrel leaves comes from oxalic acid, which is harmful if eaten in large amounts. Although the acid content is reduced by cooking, people with certain medical conditions are advised to avoid consuming sorrel. See Rumex scutatus
Disclaimer: Toronto Master Gardeners does not advise or recommend herbs for medicinal or health use. Any information in the recommended resources should be regarded as being for educational purposes only and should not be considered as a recommendation or an endorsement of any medical or health treatment.
For more information:
Missouri Botanical Garden Plant finder https://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?taxonid=264048&isprofile=0&
RHS Grow Your Own Herbs: Sorrel https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/grow-your-own/herbs/sorrel
Plants for a Future, plant data base https://pfaf.org/user/plant.aspx?LatinName=Rumex+scutatus
University of Illinois Extension https://web.extension.illinois.edu/herbs/sorrel-french.cfm
University of Minnesota extension https://extension.umn.edu/vegetables/growing-sorrel
Date revised: December 2021
Prepared by the Toronto Master Gardeners, these Gardening Guides provide introductory information on a variety of gardening topics. Toronto Master Gardeners are part of a large, international volunteer community committed to providing the public with horticultural information, education and inspiration. Our goal is to help Toronto residents use safe, effective, proven and sustainable horticultural practices to create gardens, landscapes and communities that are both vibrant and healthy.
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