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Red sorrel

By: Garden Gate staff
You can identify this perennial weed by its arrow-shaped leaves with two pointed lobes near the base. The 12- to 24-in.-tall, slender, flowering stems grow from a rosette at the crown.

pest watch

Red sorrel Rumex acetosella

IDENTIFICATION – You can identify this perennial weed by its arrow-shaped leaves with two pointed lobes near the base. The 12- to 24-in.-tall, slender, flowering stems grow from a rosette at the crown. Spikes of yellow to red flowers begin opening in June and continue blooming until frost. Red sorrel can spread either by seeds or shallow, underground rhizomes.

FAVORITE CONDITIONS – You’ll find this weed, sometimes known as “sheep sorrel,” growing in areas with poor drainage and low fertility. An acid soil low in nitrogen is where it grows best. Look for red sorrel growing in gardens, pastures and lawns throughout North America. Red sorrel is edible fresh or cooked. However, if you’re prone to kidney stones or gout, you’ll want to avoid eating it. It has a bitter flavor caused by oxalic acid.

CONTROL – One way to control this weed is to remove the roots from the soil and let it dry out thoroughly before adding it to the compost pile. If your plants have set seed, carefully dig the weeds and bury them in a trench at least 3 ft. deep to prevent any of the seeds from sprouting. To remove red sorrel from a lawn, use a selective broadleaf herbicide, such as 2-4D. It won’t kill the grass. Treat the area in late spring while the weed is actively growing and before seeds form.

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