Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

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?

Share

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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

QUESTION:

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?

ANSWER:

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

Medicinal qualities of Monarda clinopodioides
June 19, 2007 - Monarda clinopodioides Gray basil beebalm Could you tell me if the above-mentioned plant is edible or has any medicinal use?
view the full question and answer

Are berries of American Beautyberry poisonous?
September 21, 2008 - I have an American Beautyberry Plant and I need to know if the purple berries are toxic - we have dogs and I wouldn't want them to eat them. Thanks for any information you may have on this plant.
view the full question and answer

Wine from Ampelopsis arborea?
September 06, 2006 - Hello, can you eat or make wine from the fruit of Ampelopsis arborea? I have found a few vines that are very fruitful and are ready to pick!
view the full question and answer

Identification of tree with strawberry-like fruit in North Carolina
September 24, 2011 - While visiting Boone, North Carolina we walked the Greenway in town. There were a few trees with a round red fruit similar to a strawberry. They were about the size of a penny and a dull red color dot...
view the full question and answer

Plants for floodplain in Fairfield, New Jersey
March 21, 2010 - I have an easy question for you... I hope... We just moved into the floodplains of NJ in Fairfield and are interested in some plants. We would like to know what plants are best suited to grow in flood...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.