In May you are spoilt for choice with wild flowers. I apologise for the late publication of this month’s wild flower of the month but I have been without internet access for the last two weeks.
Anyway, a drive or walk along any road or footpath in the region is a total delight at this time of year. There are so many flowers. Probably the most obvious is the white cow parsley which is quite dominant in some areas. The ox-eye Daisy is also quite impressive. In more shady regions the asphodels are showing well. All of these flowers are listed and photographed in my wild flower list of Poitou-Charentes.
For this month I have chosen the plant known as common sorrel – Rumex acetosa. It is common and whilst it’s individual flowers are nothing special, they are quite impressive when grouped together and in places they give a distinctive pink/red hue to the hedge banks and meadows.
It is in the same family as dock – Rumex obtusifolius, but the flowers are normally pink to red whereas dock flowers are normally green. Here is a photo of dock which blends in with the general vegetation and is not as impressive as sorrel.
There can however be a bit of overlap with sorrel flowers being occasionally fairly light and insipid and the dock flowers a bit more robust and becoming pinkish so the key identification is the leaves. Dock has a normal shape leaf whereas the leaf or sorrel has two backward pointing bits which often curl around the leaf stem (petiole).
You can eat sorrel and I have done so but it’s not that great. I’ts name says it all….. acetosa, and it is. When very young the leaves can be added to a salad for a bit of bite! or you can make a soup.. I think their most useful culinary asset is to mix a few leaves in with spinach to liven that up but not too many or it becomes too acidic.