Weeds: Red sorrel (Sheep sorrel): Rumex acetosella

Photo by: D.D. Tapio
Use IPM (Integrated Pest Management) for most successful weed management.

Family: Polygonaceae
Cycle: Perennial
Plant Type: Broadleaf

Description: 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.

Habitat: 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

    Revision Date: 6/9/2014
    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 Turf Areas Bare Ground Areas
    • glyphosate
    • products containing dicamba
    • glyphosate
    What are Bare Ground Areas?


    Hortsense web site created by Carrie Foss, Pesticide Education, and Art Antonelli, Extension Entomology, WSU Puyallup
    Pesticide information review provided by Catherine Daniels, Washington State Pest Management Resource Service
    Database programs developed for Hortsense by Kathleen Duncan, Computer Resources, WSU Pullman
    Copyright © Washington State University | Disclaimer