SHEEP SORREL (Rumex acetosella)
Common names are field sorrel, red top sorrel, sour grass and dog eared sorrel. It is a hardy perennial, and is much smaller than either French or Garden Sorrel. Is often tinged a deep red hue especially towards the end of the summer. It grows to about a foot high. It has narrow sharp pointed leaves and spikes of green flowers turning to red. Flowers in late spring.
Sheep sorrel grows wild in most parts of the world except the tropics. It is abundant in Britain, where it is sometimes called Field Sorrel. Considered as a common weed in the U.S., it thrives with little moisture in acidic soils.
The entire plant may be harvested to be used in essiac. Or, just the leaves and stems may be harvested, which allows the plants to regrow and be reharvested again for seller profit. Because of this, it is very difficult to locate and purchase dry whole-plant Sheep Sorrel with roots and at this time no markters use whole-plant Sheep Sorrel in their essiac. The solution is to grow your own Sheep Sorrel from seeds. If you can find a good source for them, the seeds are expensive to buy.
The plant portion of the Sheep Sorrel may be harvested throughout the spring, summer, and fall, early in the morning after the dew has evaporated, or late in the afternoon. Harvest on a sunny day, as the plants need several days after a rain in which to dry properly. Harvest leaves/stem or whole plant before the flowers begin to form, since at this stage the energy of the plant is in the leaves, stems and roots. In the fall, plant energy is concentrated in the roots.
Never buy or collect more than a year’s supply of Sheep Sorrel, as it loses it potency when stored longer. It can be obtained commercially but be careful to purchase Sheep Sorrel that is certified organic and pesticide free. Fresh Sheep Sorrel will be green in color and have an aroma of sweet grass.
Sheep Sorrel is high in vitamins A, B complex, C, D, K and E. Its minerals include significant levels of calcium, iron, silicon, magnesium, sulphur, zinc, manganese, iodine and copper. Sheep Sorrel also contains beta carotene and chlorophyll; citric, malic, oxalic, tannic and tartaric acids and it is rich in potassium oxalate.
Because of the oxalic acid, Sheep Sorrel is generally not recommended for use by persons with a history of kidney stones.
Young Sheep Sorrel leaves were popular as a cooking dressing and as an addition to salads in France several hundred years ago. Indians also use Sheep Sorrel leaves as a tasty seasoning for meat dishes and also baked it into their breads. In early days it was of use against scurvy.
Sorrel plants have been a folk remedy for cancer for centuries both in Europe and Asia, more recently in North America. Alleged to break down tumors and alleviate some chronic conditions and degenerative diseases, it is an astringent and diuretic. It has been anecdotally reported to be a fever reducer, aid digestion, relieve stomach hemorrhage and jaundice. There are no scientific studies that prove Sheep Sorrel does anything of benefit for any health condition.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.