UC Master Gardeners, Santa Clara County, CA
University of California
UC Master Gardeners, Santa Clara County, CA


Garden Help > Herbs

Three popular varieties of sorrel are garden sorrel (Rumex acetosa), French sorrel (R. scutatus), and red veined sorrel (R. sanguineus). French sorrel is the preferred variety for culinary use. It grows throughout Europe, in almost all soils and situations. The arrow shaped leaves have a bright, lemony flavor, and are good additions to soups, stews, sandwiches, and salads. Cooking greatly reduces the tartness. Red veined sorrel is typically more bitter than French sorrel, and is often grown as an ornamental.

How to grow

Sorrel is cold-hardy and grows vigorously in spring.

  • Type: Perennial, tender leafed
  • Light: Full sun; can tolerate some shade
  • Soil: Well drained
  • Water: Drought tolerant once established
  • Size: Generally 1–3' tall, depending on variety. 6" wide to start, but will spread continuously

When to plant/propagate

  • From seed: Sow seeds in early spring. Or start seed indoors 3 weeks before last frost date
  • Transplants: Plant transplants in spring after last frost
  • Cuttings & divisions: Propagate via root division in spring or fall


  • Harvest the young, tender leaves for uncooked dishes. Keep refrigerated for up to two weeks, or preserve by freezing
  • Sorrel contains a significant amount of oxalic acid, which may be a problem for people with certain health conditions

Indoors: Sorrel can be grown as an indoor plant with 6 hours of bright light from a sunny window, or 12–16 hours of supplemental light provided by cool white fluorescent or LED lamps

Common pests & diseases

More information


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