Sorrel is a slender plant about 60 cm high, with roots that run deep into the ground, as well as juicy stems and edible, oblong leaves. The lower leaves are 7 to 15 cm in length, slightly arrow-shaped at the base, with very long petioles. The upper ones are sessile, and frequently become crimson. The leaves are eaten by the larvae of several species of Lepidoptera (butterfly and moth) including the Blood-vein moth.
Common sorrel has been cultivated for centuries. The leaves may be puréed in soups and sauces or added to salads and shav; they have a flavor that is similar to kiwifruit or sour wild strawberries. The plant's sharp taste is due to oxalic acid, and so may be contraindicated in people with rheumatic-type complaints, kidney or bladder stones. Sorrel is also a laxative.