University of Maryland Extension

Red Sorrel (Sheep Sorrel)

(More Lawn Weeds)  (Lawn Control Options)

red or sheep sorrel
Photo: Red Sorrel, Rumex acetosella

General description

Sorrel, also called sheep sorrel is a perennial broadleaf weed. The leaves are 1-3 inches long and arrow-shaped.

Growth habit

Young plants form a rosette of foliage near the ground. Flowers are red or yellow and bloom on spikes.


Sorrel spreads by seed and rhizomes.

red sorrel
Flowering red sorrel

Conditions that favor growth

Found in neglected, infertile lawns. It is also an indication of acidic soil. 

Management - lawns

Cultural control: Maintain healthy, dense turf that can compete and prevent weed establishment.
Mechanical control: Hand pulling or using an appropriate weeding tool are the primary means of mechanical weed control in lawns. This is a viable option at the beginning of an infestation and on young weeds. Hand pulling when the soil is moist makes the task easier. Weeds with tap roots like dandelions or have a basal rosette (leaves clustered close to the ground) like plantain are easier to pull than weeds such as Bermudagrass (wiregrass) or creeping Charlie (ground ivy) that spread with stolons or creeping stems that root along the ground.
General chemical control: 
Spot treat weeds with a liquid, selective, postemergent, broadleaf weed killer applied when weeds are actively growing. Look for a product with one or more of the following active ingredients:
2, 4-DMCPP (mecoprop), Dicamba* or Triclopyr

*Do not spray herbicides containing dicamba over the root zone of trees and shrubs. Roots can absorb the product possibly causing plant damage. Read the product label for precautions. 

Organic control

For a glossary of herbicide terms and additional information see: control options     




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