Red-veined sorrel (Rumex sanguineus)


Megan Cassidy, from Greensborough, is active within Sustainable Greensborough.

Red-veined sorrel is also known as bloody dock.

This is a little plant that has surprised me. I grew my red-veined sorrel from seed, which struck quite readily and grew into beautiful, resilient plants.

The look

The vibrant green leaves are relatively long and wide with a pointed end, a bit like a big feather, but it is the deep reddish-purplish veins that make it stand out in the garden and provide some highlights of colour.

The growth

Red-veined sorrel doesn’t get too big. I’ve found that it grows well in semi-shaded conditions, even under several other plants, as an understorey perennial plant. It also grows throughout winter, albeit a bit slower. This makes it a great addition to the food garden for the cooler months. I have around 10 plants dotted around my garden in various positions so that there are always a few young leaves ready for picking.

The taste

Red-veined sorrel has a slightly lemony taste, which makes it a bit different to other greens. It can be eaten raw in small amounts, and looks striking as a garnish in salads. The leaves can get bitter as they get bigger though, so leave those ones to catch the sun.

A warning

The leaves have a high oxalic acid content so don’t eat a whole bowl of them raw, and avoid if you have issues with kidney stones.

To mostly neutralise the oxalic acid, you can blanch in a pot of boiling water for a few minutes, like you do spinach or warrigal greens, drain (discarding the water completely), and add to a stir-fry, quiche or another dish.

If you have excess leaves, you can blanche and freeze for a quick addition to your meals whenever you need.

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So, if you’re looking for something a bit different to increase your biodiversity, bring some colour to your garden and give you more ‘greens’ options year-round, red-veined sorrel might be for you.

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