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|Plant habit, Muséum de Toulouse|
Sorrel (Rumex acetosa), also called common sorrel or garden sorrel, is a perennial herbaceous plant in the family Polygonaceae. Other names for sorrel include spinach dock and narrow-leaved dock ('dock' being a common name for the genus Rumex).
Sorrel is a slender herbaceous perennial plant about 60 centimetres (24 inches) high, with roots that run deep into the ground, as well as juicy stems and arrow-shaped (sagittate) leaves which grow from a rosette. The lower leaves are 7 to 15 cm (3 to 6 in) in length with long petioles and a membranous ocrea formed of fused, sheathing stipules. The upper leaves are sessile, (growing directly from the stem without a petiole) and frequently become crimson. It has whorled spikes of reddish-green flowers, which bloom in early summer, becoming purplish. The species is dioecious, with stamens and pistils on different plants.
Sorrel plant in Ab Pakhsh
Close-up of subsp. acetosa flowers
Close-up of subsp. acetosa nuts
- Rumex acetosa subsp. acetosa
- Rumex acetosa subsp. ambiguus
- Rumex acetosa subsp. arifolius
- Rumex acetosa subsp. hibernicus
- Rumex acetosa subsp. hirtulus
- Rumex acetosa subsp. vinealis
Distribution and habitat
Rumex acetosa occurs in grassland habitats throughout Europe from the northern Mediterranean coast to the north of Scandinavia and in parts of Central Asia. It occurs as an introduced species in parts of New Zealand, Australia, and North America. It can grow in poor soil.
Common sorrel has been cultivated for centuries. The leaves are edible when young but toughen with age; they may be puréed in soups and sauces or added to salad. The plant has a distinct sharp, sour taste.
In India, the leaves are used in soups or curries made with yellow lentils and peanuts. In Afghanistan, the leaves are coated in a wet batter and deep fried, then served as an appetizer or if in season during Ramadan, for breaking the fast. In Armenia, the leaves are collected in spring, woven into braids, and dried for use during winter. The most common preparation is aveluk soup, where the leaves are rehydrated and rinsed to reduce bitterness, then stewed with onions, potatoes, walnuts, garlic and bulgur wheat or lentils, and sometimes sour plums.
"Escalope de saumon à l'oseille" (salmon escalope in sorrel sauce), invented in 1962 by the Troisgros brothers, is an emblematic dish of the French nouvelle cuisine. French cuisine traditionally cooks fish with sorrel because its acidity dissolves thin fish bones.
In the Caribbean, "sorrel" is a type of sweet hibiscus tea commonly made from the roselle flower, but this plant from Western Africa is actually a form of hibiscus unrelated to the Eurasian sorrel herb.
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- Sorrel Drink, A Caribbean Favorite During The Christmas Season
- A hibiscus drink, by any of its names, is sweet