WSU Extension


Weeds : Red sorrel (Sheep sorrel) : Rumex acetosella
(revision date: 4/7/2021)

Family: Polygonaceae
Cycle: Perennial
Plant Type: Broadleaf

Use Integrated Pest Management (IPM) for successful weed management.

Red sorrel has a creeping root system and spreads aggressively by underground roots and rhizomes. The upright, somewhat woody stems grow to a height of 1/2 to two feet, with little branching in the lower portions. Leaves are alternate on the hairless stems, with short petioles and a papery sheath at the point of attachment to the stem. The leaves have a distinctive lance or arrowhead shape, with two narrow lobes at the base of the blade. Reddish flowers are borne in loose clusters on branching stems at the top of the plant. Red sorrel is dioecious, bearing red-brown female flowers and yellow-green to red-orange male flowers on separate plants. The glossy, reddish-brown seeds are triangular in shape and are typically enclosed by the persisting remains of the flowers.
Red sorrel thrives on acid soils, but it is well-adapted to many soil types and growing conditions. It may be a weed of waste places, lawns, fields, gardens, and roadsides.

Management Options

Non-Chemical Management
None recommended
Select non-chemical management options as your first choice!

Chemical Management

Apply according to label directions. Glyphosate products should be applied as spot treatments only! NOTE: Some ingredients listed here are only available in combination. Read the label carefully on combination products to make sure the product is suitable for your specific situation.

Landscape areas
  • glyphosate
  • products containing dicamba
Turf areas
  • products containing dicamba
Bare ground areas
  • glyphosate
  • products containing dicamba
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Caption: Red sorrel leaves
Photo by: T.W. Miller
Caption: Red sorrel male flowers
Photo by: D.D. Tapio
Caption: Red sorrel female flowers
Photo by: T.W. Miller
Caption: Red sorrel rosette
Photo by: J.A. Kropf
Caption: Red sorrel leaves
Photo by: J.A. Kropf
Caption: Red sorrel seedling
Photo by: D.G. Swan
Caption: Red sorrel in a yard
Photo by: T. W. Miller