069. Rumex acetosa. Common sorrel.
Synonyma. Acetosa. Pharm. Lond. & Edinb.
Acetosa pratensis. Bauh. Pin. p. 114.
Oxalis crispa. J. Bauh. ii. p. 990.
Oxalis seu Acetosa. Gerard. Emac. p. 396.
Acetosa vulgaris. Park. p. 742.
Lapathum acetosum vulgare. Raii Synop. p. 148. Raii Hist. p. 178.
Lapathum sexubus distinctis, foliis sagittatis, hamis retrorsum porrectis. Hal. Stirp. Helv. n. 1597.
R. Acetosa. Withering. Bot. Arrang. p. 376. Relhan Flor. Cant. p. 149. Hudsons Ang. 156.
Class Hexandria. [This plant, according to the strictness of methodical system, ought to belong to the class Dioecia, as the flowers are distinctly male and female in different plants: our figure represents the former.] Ord. Trigynia. Lin. Gen. Plant. 451.
Ess. Gen. Ch. Cal. 3-phyllus. Petala 3, conniventia. Sem. 1, triquetrum.
Spec. Char. R. Flor. dioicis, fol. oblongis sagittatis.
The root is perennial, slender, long, and fibrous: the stalk is erect, channelled, branched at the top, partially of a purplish red colour, and usually rises from one to two feet in height: the radical leaves are narrow, oblong, arrow-shaped, of a bright green colour, and stand upon long footstalks, but those on the stem are without footstalks, and placed alternately: the flowers are produced in terminal branched spikes, partly tinged of a reddish colour, and stand upon short slender peduncles: the calyx is composed of three oval segments: the corolla consists of three petals, shaped like the divisions of the calyx: the six filaments are short, slender, and furnished with erect double antherae: the germen is triangular, and supports three simple reflected styles, with bearded stigmata: the seeds are naked, single, and of a triangular shape. It is common in meadows and pastures, and flowers in June.
Some writers have referred this plant to the Lapathum quartum [L. ii, cap. 108.] of Dioscorides, and to the Lapathum sylvestre, quod alii oxalidem appellant, of Pliny. [L. xx. cap. 21.] But as the word (greek) has been indiscriminately used both to signify sharp, with respect to the taste of a plant, and in relation to the form of its leaves, there may be a doubt whether those authors have done right, in exclusively applying it in the former sense as in the name Acetosa.—The leaves of common Sorrel have an agreeable acid taste, like that of the Oxalis Acetosella, or Wood-sorrel, which we have before described; (see page 56) and as they are medicinally employed for the same purposes, what has been already said of that plant will in a great measure apply to this; which from being easily procured in great abundance may be conveniently substituted for it. Sorrel, taken in considerable quantity, or used variously prepared as food, will certainly be found of important advantage where a refrigerant and antiscorbutic regimen is required; [See Morin in Hist, de l'Ac. des Sciences, 1708, p. 52. Barthol. Act. Havn. 1671, p. 35. Boerhaave Hist. Plant. L. B. P. ii. p. 540.] and we are told by Linnaeus, that the Laplanders experience a serum acetosatum to be in this respect an useful and pleasant diet. [Flor. Lapp. p. 94.]