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Weed of the Month – Red Sorrel

Red sorrel (Rumex acetosella) is a perennial weed that is easily identified by its red flowers and spade-shaped leaves.

Red sorrel (Rumex acetosella) is a perennial weed that is easily identified by its red flowers and spade-shaped leaves.
Jackie Jordan, ©2019, Clemson University

Red sorrel (Rumex acetosella) is a perennial weed that is easily identified by its red flowers and spade-shaped leaves. It is a member of the buckwheat family and native to Europe. The plant produces large quantities of pollen that can contribute to hay fever. The weed is edible, and some people grow it as a green or an herb. The tart flavor is often compared to lemons or sour apples. While the plant is safe for humans, it is toxic to livestock.

Red sorrel is an indicator weed and is tolerant of acidic, nutrient deficient soils. If your landscape is dominated by red sorrel, have your soil analyzed. For more information on taking a soil sample, please see HGIC 1652, Soil Testing. The soil test results will reveal how much lime your soil needs to raise the pH to the proper level. Soil pH impacts a plants ability to extract nutrients out of the soil. Proper pH is critical to maintaining a thick, lush lawn.

Weeds in the Lawn Control Tip

Many winter weeds are in bloom this time of year and most people wait too late to begin effective control methods. Once a weed begins to flower, many herbicides are ineffective or require multiple applications to achieve results. Some herbicides cannot be used on warm season grasses while they are transitioning out of dormancy. Always read the entire label before applying any pesticides. Warmer days will kill out most of the weeds in bloom this time of year before herbicides have a chance to offer any control. Bagging your clippings can greatly reduce the number of weed seeds that will be left in the soil to germinate next fall.

For more information on red sorrel and other indicator weeds see HGIC Hot Topic: Weeds As Indicators.

If this document didn’t answer your questions, please contact HGIC at hgic@clemson.edu or 1-888-656-9988.

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