MOUNTAIN SORREL

Oxyria digyna

Dock & Knotweed Family [Polygonaceae]

month8jun month8june month8jul month8july month8aug

status
statusZnative
flower
flower8green
inner
inner8red
morph
morph8actino
petals
petalsZ4
type
typeZclustered
type
typeZtieredwhorls
type
typeZspiked
stem
stem8round
toxicity
toxicityZlowish

1st Sept 2011, near sea level, Srath Mor, Isle of Skye Photo: © Gordon Anderson
The only other plant with dock-like fruits and rounded leaves is Monk's Rhubarb (Rumex alpinus) which at up to 70cm is up to twice the height of Mountain Sorrel. The leaves of Mountain Sorrel, by comparison, are flatter. Grows in tufts.


1st Sept 2011, near sea level, Srath Mor, Isle of Skye Photo: © Gordon Anderson
The fruits have four green tepals with red-edges. Like Monk's Rhubarb they lack warts. Flowering stems can be reddish.


1st Sept 2011, near sea level, Srath Mor, Isle of Skye Photo: © Gordon Anderson
Leaves form a low blanket around the flowering stems.


1st Sept 2011, near sea level, Srath Mor, Isle of Skye Photo: © Gordon Anderson
Leaves fairly thick and with a tendency for red edges.


Easily mis-identified as : Monk's Rhubarb (Rumex alpinus), which can grow in similar places but is more likely found near houses and roads (and probably Abbeys) on account of it once being popular as a pot-herb, but it is much taller and the leaves, although similarly heart-shaped, are slightly concave rather than slightly convex.

No relation to : Wood-Sorrel (Oxalis acetosella), Pink-Sorrel (Oxalis articulata), Pale Pink-Sorrel (Oxalis latifolia), Spreading Yellow-Sorrel (Oxalis corniculata), Least Yellow-Sorrel (Oxalis exilis), Upright Yellow-Sorrel (Oxalis stricta), Pale Pink-Sorrel (Oxalis latifolia), Purple Pink-Sorrel (Oxalis debilis) nor to Lilac Sorrel (Oxalis incarnata), [plants with similar names belonging to a differing Genus, Oxalis, which belongs to a differing family, Oxalidaceae, although both genera possess salts of Oxalic Acid such as Calcium Oxalate].

Mountain Sorrel is the only member of the Oxyria genus (at least in the UK) but is related to the Rumex genus of Docks and Sorrels. It grows only on mountain grasslands or rocky ledges in wettish places, and has its main presence in Scotland with a few islands in Cumbria and Snowdonia.

Like other Docks and Sorrels such as Common Sorrel, Mountain Sorrel has an acid taste due to the presence of poisonous Oxalic Acid, specifically the calcium salt, Calcium Oxalate, which forms extremely tiny needle-shaped and extremely sharp crystals called raphides, which cause mechanical damage to cells when consumed. That said, like other Sorrels, the leaves are still used in salads (not many leaves are used in salads). It is only fatal when great quantities are consumed. It is also rich in Vitamin C, containing 360ppm by weight and used by the Inuit to cure scurvy. The genus name Oxyria, is Greek and means 'sour'. The aerial parts of the plant are all edible when cooked.

The flowers, not shown, are small with four tepals, green, later turning reddish.


  Oxyria digyna  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Polygonaceae  

Distribution
 family8Dock & Knotweed family8Polygonaceae

 BSBI maps
genus8Oxyria
Oxyria
(Mountain-Sorrel)

MOUNTAIN SORREL

Oxyria digyna

Dock & Knotweed Family [Polygonaceae]