Red Veined Sorrel: A salad and a cure

I really like odd varieties of plants. I don't know what it  is about the more uncommon plants that attract me, but I looked around at my garden and house plants today and realized that I have quite a few. I decided to start a little series here and am dedicating one post a month to introducing some of the medicinal herbs, flowers and other plants I grow that you may never have heard about. I would like to start off with a stunning foliage plant called Bloody Dock.

bloody dock, bloodwort, herb, bloody sorrel

Red veined Sorrel

Bloody Dock (Rumex sanguineus) is also known as Red-Veined Sorrel or Bloodwort. This striking plant has vibrant green leaves with brilliant veins of burgundy-purple.  The interesting thing about this particular plant is that not only can it be eaten like a lettuce or sauteed like a spinach, but it also has the healing properties of an herb.

The leaves of the Bloody Dock grow from a tight rosette. They are longer then they are wide, these are called lanceolate leaves. The young leaves of the Bloody Dock plant can be cut and used like a lettuce. They are slightly sharp tasting though and a bit lemony.

Once the leaves are mature they get a bit too bitter but can be sauteed like spinach to make them palatable. Once sauteed they go very well with fish or eggs. Once the plant is established it can be used as a cut and come again. If it's not pruned often it can get quite leggy and will produce small flowers.

As an herb, Bloody Dock has shown great promise for preventing cancer and fighting high cholesterol and diseases of the circulatory system. It's high in vitamins A & C, iron and potassium. It has antiseptic and astringent properties and a decoction of the leaves can be used externally for healing cuts, burns, rashes, wounds, hemorrhoids, insect bites and boils. 

The tap root is often dug up in spring and dried for later use.

Bloody Dock does contain a good amount of oxalic acid (like spinach and brassicas). This is the nutrient that's believed to fight cancer however, it can also contribute to kidney stones in high doses so it's recommended to not overdo it!


Sprouting seeds, red veined sorrel

Growing bloody dock

Bloody dock is easy to grow from seed. It likes a evenly moist, well drained soil and partial shade. The red veins are already apparent when the plant is just 1/2" tall!

Once the red veined sorrel flowers, it self seeds...however it may be a little too good at this! You'll want to clip off the flower heads before they go to seed or you run the risk of being overrun with it next year. Since the seeds are so tiny, you'll have a hard time collecting them all. 

If you constantly harvest the leaves though, the flowers will not form, so self seeding won't be a problem. Once dried, the flowers are often used in flower arrangements. 

Bloody Dock can grow up to 3 feet tall and is a perennial up to zone 6. Like other Sorrel's, Bloody Dock grows continuously from early spring till late fall. As a perennial it's often the first greens available in the spring so if you're looking for a spring salad this would be a great choice. 

Many people simply plant Bloody Dock as a foliage plant similar to how you would use Hostas. It makes for a very striking border and if left to self seed will easily fill an empty area of your landscaping if desired. 


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I am not a doctor or other health care professional nor do I claim to be. I am not trained in any medical field. I am simply passing on information that has worked for me. This information is for entertainment purposes only and is not meant to treat or diagnose any medical condition. see a Dr if you are ill. Click for my full disclaimer.

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