Two similar species are grown for their edible leaves, which can be used raw in salads or cooked in soups, sauces, egg dishes. Flavor is like that of a sharp, sprightly spinach, but sorrel is more heat tolerant and produces throughout the growing season. Common sorrel (Rumex acetosa) is the larger plant (to 3 feet tall), with leaves to 6 inches long, many shaped like elongated arrowheads. It is native to northern climates. French sorrel (R. scutatus) is a more sprawling plant, to 112 feet high, with shorter, broader leaves and a milder, more lemony flavor than R. acetosa. Native to Europe, western Asia, and North Africa.
Grow sorrel in reasonably good soil. Sow seeds in early spring; thin seedlings to 8 inches apart. Or set out transplants at any time, spacing them 8 inches apart. Pick tender leaves when they are big enough to use; cut out flowering stems to encourage leaf production. Replace (or dig and divide) plants after 3 or 4 years.