An Illustrated Guide to ARIZONA WEEDS

The University of Arizona Press

RED SORREL, sheep sorrel



RED SORREL-Rumex acetosella L.

DESCRIPTION-Red sorrel is a tufted perennial 1/2 to 2 feet high, with few to many stems, reproducing by seed, and by reddish creeping rhizomes with many slender runners. The stems, also slender and reddish, are mostly unbranched at the base. Some or all of the leaves are arrowshaped with a pair of lobes at the base. The leaves are alternate, 1 to 3 inches long including the stalk, and occur mostly toward the base of the plant, forming a rosette on the ground at first. The small flowers, of 2 kinds, are formed on many narrow flowering branches at the top of the stems. The male flowers are yellow, the female reddish. They occur on different plants. The shiny, 3-angled achenes are mahogany red and 1/16 inch or less long.

DISTRIBUTION-Red sorrel grows in moist disturbed soil, often in barren eroded areas, along roadsides, streams, lakes, and in wet meadows and fields. It frequently forms large troublesome colonies 10 to 30 feet in diameter to the exclusion of other plants in oak woodland or mostly yellow pine forests. It is very common in Apache, Navajo, and Coconino counties, but is also found in Graham, Gila, Cochise, and Pima counties; 4,500 to 8,700 feet elevation; flowering May to September.

POISONOUS PROPERTIES-Introduced from Eurasia, red sorrel contains oxalic acid, which gives the plant a sour taste and causes dermatitis in some animals. There have been reports from some countries that horses and sheep have been poisoned as a result of eating large quantities of this plant.

Copyright (c) 1972 The Arizona Board of Regents

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