Product: Sheeps Sorrel
Latin Name: Rumex acetosella syn. Acetosella vulgaris
Plant Family: Polygonaceae
Other Names: Common Sheep Sorrel, Sheep Sorrell, Red Sorrel, Sour Weed, Field Sorrel, Meadow Sorrel, Red Top Sorrel, Sour Grass, Dog-Eared Sorrel & Oseille.
Description: Sheep’s sorrel is an herbaceous perennial plant native to most of the temperate regions of the world. It reaches a height of 30-45cm and has slender upright stems that are tinged red. The leaves are approximately 3-5cm in length, basal, alternate and arrow-shaped, and bright ‘spring’ green in colour. The flowers display in upright panicles of many 6-sepaled reddish inflorescences approximately 2mm in diameter, clustered on slender stalks that branch off the main stem.
Brief History: The genus name ‘rumex’ derives from the Latin word ‘rumo’ which means ‘to suck’ and is said to refer to a use the romans put sheeps sorrel to, the sucked the leaves to extract the juice to quench their thirst. Sheep’s sorrel featured on the daily menus of the Romans in the 4th century, when it was used as a green vegetable, which is also said to have been a favourite vegetable of Henry VIII. The tart ‘acidic’ juice from the plant was used to curdle milk. Culpeper says of sheep’s sorrel ‘They are of great use against scurvy if eaten as a spring salad; and the juice is frequently taken among other antiscorbutic juices.’
The leaves can be used to thicken soups and stews and as a vegetarian curdling agent when making cheese. Juice from the plant can be used to remove rust from metal and mould stains on fabrics such as linen. A dark green to brown dye can be obtained from the roots, which doesn’t require any mordant.
Shelf life of two years provided that goods are stored in an airtight container in ambient conditions.