151. Rumex Acetosa, Linn.—Common Sorrel.
Sex. Syst. Hexandria, Trigynia.
History.—Dioscorides [Lib. ii. cap. 140.] mentions this as the fourth sort (τέταρτον είδος) of λαπαζον, which some call οξαλίς.
Botany. Gen. Char.—Sepals 6, the 3 inner (petals) larger, subsequently becoming enlarged (enlarged or permanent petals), converging, and finally concealing the nut. Stamens 6. Stigmas in many fine tufted segments. Embryo lateral.
Sp. Char.—Leaves oblong, sagittate or hastate, veiny. Flowers dioecious. Inner sepals (petals) roundish, cordate, with a very minute tubercle at the base.
Hab.—Indigenous. Woods and pastures common. Perennial. Flowers in June.
Description.—Sorrel leaves have an agreeable, acid, slightly astringent taste.
Composition.—I am unacquainted with any analysis of this plant. The leaves are composed of superoxalate of potash, tartaric acid, mucilage, fecula, chlorophylle, tannic acid, and woody fibre.
Physiological Effects.—Slightly nutritive. Refrigerant and diuretic. Esteemed antiscorbutic.
Uses.—Employed as a pot-herb and salad—from the latter use of it, it has been termed green-sauce. [Withering, Bot. vol. ii.] Rarely applied medicinally. A decoction of the leaves may be administered in whey, as a cooling and pleasant drink, in febrile and inflammatory diseases. In some parts of Scandinavia bread is made of it in times of scarcity. [Clarke, Travels in Scandinavia, Part III. S. ii. p. 90, 1823.] But the use of aliments containing oxalic acid may, as suggested by Laugier, under some circumstances, dispose to the formation of mulberry calculi.