Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Sheep Sorrel - Rumex acetosella  
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Section 6 » Order Polygonales » Family Polygonaceae
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DistributionThroughout the state; likely in every county.

Native of Europe and western Asia; in N.A. throughout except the Far North.
AbundanceFrequent to locally abundant; can be the most numerous or obvious plant in fallow fields soon after abandonment.
HabitatDry to mesic soils of disturbed areas, waste areas, roadsides, railroads, barnyards, campuses, lawn weed, granitic flatrocks, rock outcrops, grassy balds, cropfields, pastures.
PhenologyFlowering and fruiting March-November.
IdentificationSheep Sorrel is a familiar plant of weedy places owing to its long "spike" of dull reddish flowers. The stems are perennial and may grow to 1.5 feet tall, but usually less than a foot. The basal leaves are moderately long-stalked, the blades lance-shaped and with 2 lateral narrow lobes near the base. The stem leaves are similar but shorter-stalked. The inflorescences are axillary and terminal, slender or stringy looking, the flowers numerous in whorls of 5-8, reddish. In several respects it is a smaller version of the native R. hastatulus, the major difference being the lack of sepal wings in R. acetosella.
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State RankSE
Global RankGNR
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