Wildflowers, Plants and Ferns, Pacific Northwest
Common Sorrel is also known as sheep sorrel, field sorrel or red top sorrel. It is a hardy perennial that grows all over the Pacific Northwest. Is often tinged a deep red hue especially towards the end of the summer. It can grow up to 50 cm high. It has narrow sharp pointed leaves and spikes of green flowers turning to red. The flowers bloom in late spring.
It grows wild in most parts of the world in the temperate forest zones. It is abundant in B.C.. Considered as a common weed in the U.S., it thrives with little moisture in acidic soils.
This is a great medicinal plant. The entire plant may be harvested to be used, or just the leaves and stems may be harvested, which allows the plants to re-grow to be harvested again. The plant portion of the Common Sorrel may be harvested throughout the spring, summer, and fall. Harvest on a sunny day after a few days of no rain, this is to insure that the plant is dry. In the fall you harvest the roots. Never harvest more than a year’s worth of Sorrel, as it loses it potency when stored to long. Fresh plants will be green in color and have an aroma of sweet grass.
Common Sorrel is high in vitamins A, B complex, C, D, K and E. Its minerals include high levels of calcium, magnesium, sulfur, zinc, iron, silicon, manganese, iodine and copper. Common Sorrel also contains beta carotene and chlorophyll; citric, tannic, oxalic and tartaric acids and it is rich in potassium.
Because of the acid, Common Sorrel is generally not recommended for use by persons with a history of kidney stones. It has been used as a fever reducer. Common Sorrel plants have been used as a folk remedy for cancer for centuries both in Europe and Asia and more recently in North America. Alleged to break down tumors and alleviate some chronic conditions and degenerative diseases, it is an astringent and diuretic.