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. So I would like to talk about some of them starting with a stunning plant called Bloody Dock.

Red veined sorrel AKA bloody dock plant

This is one of the easiest plants to grow and like many of my favorite plants, I have been growing it for years. It grows well both indoors and out, so you should be able to grow it no matter what zone you're in. 

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 sautéed like a spinach, but it also has the healing properties of an herb.

Related reading: An introduction to Sorrel from Epicurious.

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 sautéed like spinach to make them palatable. Once sautéed 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.

bloody dock, AKA red veined sorrel growing in a red pot

Medicinal uses for Bloody Dock

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!


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! How cute is that?

Sprouting seeds, red veined sorrel

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. 

I put it at the edge of my yard and let the chickens take care of the excess, transplanting a few plants into the garden every summer for my own use.

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 one of 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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