My Dirt Time The Adventures of Tom Sciacca

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Sheep Sorrel

My Dirt Time This pic is sheep sorrel. It's quite tasty and tangy. Just pick a piece and pop it in your mouth. You might be pleasantly surprised.

As "Wildman" Steve Brill says "Sheep Sorrel: a medium-sized plant with tiny reddish flowers and arrow-shaped leaves; flowers tiny, reddish, clustered on slender stalk up to 20 inches long, in late spring; fruits tiny, inconspicuous, yellow-brown, in papery wrappers; leaves arrow-shaped, pointy-tipped, up to four inches long, with a pair of narrow, pointed lobes pointing outward from the leaf’s base.

Sheep sorrel’s leaf looks like a sheep’s, with a pointy tip like a nose, and two pointed lobes (subdivisions), pointed left and right, near the leaf base, like a sheep’s ears. The leaf gets about as long as a house key.

In late spring, the tiny pink flowers dot a slender stalk as high as a quart orange juice container.

The leaves are good to eat from early spring to late fall.

Sheep sorrel grows on lawns, and in meadows and fields. Sometimes people grow a large, less tasty, cultivated variety in their gardens.

This plant is a symbol of parental affection. Wild sheep sorrel is also the symbol of poorly-timed wit, such as a joke that falls flat because it’s told at the wrong time. If that sounds confusing, attend my tours—you’ll hear plenty of those. But don’t complain: It may help us find sheep sorrel.

People confuse it with clover, but clover has oval leaflets instead of heart-shaped ones.

Use sheep sorrel leaves or wood sorrel leaves, flowers, and fruit capsules raw in salads. Cook them in soups, stews, or other dishes, or make a tea with them: Pour boiling water over a handful of leaves, stems, and flowers. Let them sit, covered, away from the heat, 20 minutes. Strain out the plants, sweeten if you want, and drink the lemony-tasting tea. Or chill it first, to make ice tea. Both sorrels are loaded with vitamin C.

Although sheep sorrel is a favorite wild food, a superstition from Bathhurst, New Brunswick, claims that eating it will make your head lousy. But to be lousy, you must be infested with lice, tiny parasitic insects that live on people and bite them."

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