E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Rumex acetosella L.
sheep sorrel (common sheep sorrel)
Polygonaceae (Buckwheat family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Jamie Fenneman  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #6580)

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Distribution of Rumex acetosella
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Species Information

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Annual or perennial dioecious (male and female flowers on separate plants) herb from slender rhizomes and simple to branched crowns; stems erect, several, simple (below the inflorescence), 15-30 cm tall, smooth.
Basal leaves linear to egg-shaped, at least some arrowhead-shaped, with the lobes pointing outwards, smooth, the blades 1-5 cm long, the stalks often longer than the blades; stem leaves alternate, similar but reduced upward, nearly unstalked.
Inflorescence of unisexual flowers in an open, large but narrow panicle; flower stalks jointed near the base of the flower; perianths 1-1.5 mm long, reddish to yellowish, the inner segments tightly enclosing the achenes, lacking a grain-like swelling.
Achenes, golden brown, smooth, about 1.5 mm long.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

Habitat / Range

Mesic to dry gardens, fields, roadsides and waste places; common in S BC, rare northward; introduced from Eurasia.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Rumex acetosella

The table below shows the species-specific information calculated from
original data (BEC database) provided by the BC Ministry of Forests and Range.
(Updated August, 2013)

Site Information
Value / Class




Elevation (metres) 31 706 2055
Slope Gradient (%) 0 28 84
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
30 181 360
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
0 3 6
Modal Nutrient Regime
Number of field plots
 species was recorded in:
Modal BEC Zone Class
All BEC Zones (# of stations/zone) species was recorded in: CDF(11), CWH(2), ESSF(2), ICH(5), IDF(14), MS(2), PP(2), SBPS(1), SBS(1), SWB(1)


The climate type for this species, as reported in the: "British Columbia plant species codes and selected attributes. Version 6 Database" (Meidinger et al. 2008), is not evaluated, unknown or variable.

Synonyms and Alternate Names

Acetosella acetosella (L.) Small
Acetosella tenuifolia (Wallr.) A. Löve
Acetosella vulgaris Fourr.
Rumex acetosella subsp. acetosella
Rumex acetosella subsp. angiocarpus (Murb.) Murb.
Rumex acetosella var. pyrenaeus (Pourr.) Timbal-Lagrave
Rumex acetosella var. tenuifolius Wallr.
Rumex angiocarpus Murb.
Rumex tenuifolius (Wallr.) A. Löve

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References