Virginia Tech Weed Identification Guide

Red Sorrel: Rumex acetosella

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Weed Description:  A perennial from rhizomes with distinctive arrowhead-shaped leaves and red flowering stems.  Red sorrel is primarily a weed of turfgrass, lawns, roadsides, landscapes, and some nursery crops.  It is found throughout the United States.
Seedlings:  Cotyledons are oblong, without hairs, reaching 10 mm in length.  Cotyledons and young leaves usually have a 'mealy' cast on the leaf surfaces.  The first true leaf is egg-shaped in outline and occurs on a short petiole.  The distinctive arrowhead-shaped leaves develop later.

Roots:  A taproot and rhizomes.

rsorrel4-8b.jpg (197132 bytes) Stems:  Flowering stems are erect, reaching18 inches in height, branching in the upper portions only.  Stems are ridged and often maroon-tinted.

Flowers: Occur in clusters on the flowering stems.  Flowers can be either yellowish-green in color (male) or red to maroon in color (female).

Fruit:  An achene that is also red to maroon in color.

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Leaves:  Distinctively arrowhead-shaped due to 2 lobes that occur at the base of the leaves.  Most leaves occur in the basal rosette, however some stem leaves occur also.  Basal leaves are approximately 1 to 3 inches long, without hairs (glabrous), and occur on petioles.   Leaves on the flowering stem are arranged alternately and are usually linear in outline (not usually arrowhead-shaped), without distinctive petioles.  All leaves have a thin membranous sheath (ocrea) surrounding the stem at the point of the leaf petiole attachment.

Identifying Characteristics:  The arrowhead-shaped leaves that develop in a basal rosette and the red to maroon-tinged flowering stems are both characteristics that distinguish red sorrel from most other species.