En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?


Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Sunday - March 25, 2007

From: Fort Worth, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Edible Plants
Title: Edibility of Rumex hastatulus (heartwing sorrel)
Answered by: Nan Hampton


My mother and aunt, who are in their 80s, tell stories of eating a plant, when they were girls in North Central Texas. They call the plant "sheep shire". My mother says that it is a flat weed, that tastes like a sour pickle. What is it?


Mr. Smarty Plants remembers, as a child in East Texas, chewing on the stem of a plant that we called "sourweed" and thinks that plant is Rumex hastatulus (heartwing sorrel).

Delena Tull in Edible and Useful Plants of Texas and the Southwest says, "Rumex hastatulus and R. acetosella, both commonly called sheep sorrel, have a pickle-sour flavor similar to that of Oxalis."

Another possibility for this plant, of course, is Oxalis drummondii (Drummond's woodsorrel). Woodsorrel leaves and flowers are often added to salads or as flavoring in cooked greens.

Oxalic acid is the compound in both Oxalis and Rumex that causes the sour flavor. In small portions it is harmless but large amounts can be toxic. Rumex spp. and Oxalis spp. can be toxic, but only if large quantities are consumed. Also, Rumex spp. can be toxic to livestock in large quantities.

Rumex hastatulus

Oxalis drummondii



More Edible Plants Questions

Weed prevention in vegetable gardens
September 26, 2007 - Mr.Smarty Plants - I know this isn't your area, but we have a vegetable garden that has been plagued by summertime weeds. Do you have a recommendation for a control plan we could implement during t...
view the full question and answer

Texas native peach from Elmendorf TX
January 30, 2013 - Does Texas have a native peach tree that grows wild?
view the full question and answer

Identification of strange dark green blobs
February 03, 2012 - In my back yard I have a type of plant with no roots only around in the summer and when it rains. It looks like a person took a piece lettuce and put way too much water into it and wadded it up. It ...
view the full question and answer

Odor and flavor of oils in Mints as insect repellants
December 19, 2005 - I am trying to find information on "How does mint plants repel insects" It's for my grand daughter's science project. Any help will be appreciated. Thank you
view the full question and answer

Use of Ilex sp. by Seminole Indians to make black drink.
August 03, 2009 - Ilex myrtifolia: can the leaves be used as tea? Seminole indians made a black drink reputed to be made of holly leaves.
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center