Sorrel, the Common, or Sorrel-Dock, Rumex Acetosus, L. a native perennial, growing in meadows and pastures, where it flowers in the month of June. - This vegetable is eaten by horses, cows, goats, sheep and swine. - It is cultivated in France and Britain, for culinary purposes ; as, in the former country, its leaves are a frequent ingredient in soups, and also eaten in salads; in the latter, they are esteemed for their tooling properties, because they tend to allay thirst; to promote the urinary discharge; and, when boiled in whey, they afford a palatable drink to persons labouring under inflammatory fevers. - In Ireland, the sorrel-leaves are used by the lower classes, both as a kind of sauce to fish, and also with milk: they possess, however, a very austere, acid taste, when raw, insomuch as to divest the teeth of their enamel; hence they should not be eaten by those whose stomach abounds in acidity.
The seeds of this vegetable were formerly used in medicine; but are at present, according to Hedin, employed by the Swedes among their bread-corn, and reduced to flour ; nay, the inhabitants of Ca-relia convert them into bread, without any addition. - Its roots have an austere, bitterish, taste, and are chiefly valuable to tanners; and also for the red tinge which they yield, after having, been dried and boiled. On adding alum to this decoction, painters prepare a fine red colour, but which is useless in dyeing. - Boerhaave obtained from the juice of the Sorrel-dock, an essential salt, resembling that of lemons.
Sheep's Sorrel, or Dock, Rumex Acetosella-, L. is also a native perennial, which grows in sandy meadows, pastures, and gravel-walks : it flowers in May and June. - The stalks of this plant, which affords a wholesome food for sheep, seldom exceed 12 inches in height: it deserves, however, to be mentioned, that cows partaking of the Sheep's Dock, yield a milk tinged with blood,
Common Wood Sorrel, Sour Trefoil, or Cuckow-Bread. Oxalis Acetosella, L. another native perennial, which abounds in woods, shady hedges, and on heaths : it flowers in the month of April. - This vegetable is eaten by goats, hogs, and sheep ; but is not relished by cows, and is refused by horses. Its purple leaves yield, on expression, a gratefully acid juice, which has been beneficially used in scorbutic eruptions : and, if such juice be properly clarified, evaporated, and deposited in a cool place, it will produce a considerable quantity of acid crystals, which may be employed for removing iron-moulds from linen-cloth; and which are sold under the name of Essential Salt of Lemons. - .An infusion of the leaves makes a palatable diet-drink in ardent fevers; and, on being boiled in milk, they form an agreeable whey. They have also been successfully applied to scrophulous ulcers, when rolled in a cabbage leaf, and digested in warm ashes, till they were reduced to a pulp. - But the most easy and efficacious way of preserving these leaves, is that of converting them into a kind of conserve, with the addition of double their weight of sugar ; in which form, they are an excellent substitute for lemons, and may be given with advantage in all putrid and other fevers, where antiseptics are indicated.