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Any of several hardy perennial herbs of the buckwheat family, widespread in temperate regions. Sheep sorrel (Rumex acetosella), a weed native to Europe and widespread in North America, is an attractive but troublesome invader in lawns, gardens, meadows, and grassy slopes. It has slender, triangular leaves and tiny yellow or reddish flowers. The pungent, sour leaves are used as a vegetable, as a flavouring in omelets and sauces, in soups, and, when young, in salads. Two related species are garden sorrel (R. acetosa) and French sorrel (R. scutatus), both found throughout Europe and Asia. Wood sorrels, unrelated plants in the family Oxalidaceae, belong to the genus Oxalis (seeoxalis).
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on sorrel, visit Britannica.com.