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University of Illinois Extension
Herb Gardening

French Sorrel

French Sorrel

Rumex scutatus



Sorrel is a mound shaped plant growing in the form of a rosette.  The leaves are lance-shaped, shiny green and can be from 6-12 inches in length.  The flavor is very acidic and lemon-like.


French sorrel can be started from seed sown in the garden in early spring.  Sow seed about one inch deep.  It prefers a full sun location in rich, moist soil.  As sorrel grows, it will develop seed stalks. Keep these removed from the plant when they appear. Seed stalks will result in reduced quantities of useable quality leaves. Plants should be divided every 3-4 years to maintain their vigor.


Leaves can be harvested through the season as needed.  Leaves harvested very early in the season tend to be without much flavor, but gradually gain their characteristic acidic flavor as the season progresses.  Sorrel leaves contain oxalic acid that can be a problem for people with certain health conditions. If oxalic acid in the diet is an issue, use sorrel sparingly.  Sorrel is best used fresh but leaves do freeze well for later use.


Used in mixed salads, sauces, soups, cheese dishes and pork and fish dishes.  Because of the high acidity levels found in sorrel, cooking with it may discolor some metallic pots.

Popular Varieties

Profusion® - A variety that does not go to seed (bolt) thus producing large quantities of leaves all season.

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