Red Sorrel

Description

Red sorrel is a perennial that is common in pastures, turf and nursery crops. It is found in areas that have low nitrogen levels in the soil and poor drainage. The leaves have a very bitter taste that resembles sour apples, and can be fatal to livestock when eaten in large quantities. The mature leaves of red sorrel have a very unique arrowhead shape, and form a rosette.

Cultural Control

Perennial broadleaf turf weeds are capable of living more than two years. They thrive in weak, thin turf; golf fairways and roughs; home lawns; playfields; and industrial grounds. Proper turf maintenance is the key to control of this weed. First, select adapted turfgrass cultivars for your area and then properly fertilize, mow, and water to encourage dense growth.

Chemical Control

Herbicide and Formulation Amount of Formulation per 1,000 sq ft Amount of Formulation per Acre Pounds Active Ingredient per Acre
Preemergence and Postemergence Control
mesotrione, MOA 27 (4 SC) (Tenacity) 0.092 to 0.183 fl oz 4 to 8 fl oz 0.125 to 0.25
Precaution and Remarks: Use on residential turf, golf courses (not greens) and sod farms for pre- and postemergence weed control. Tolerant turfgrasses include St. Augustinegrass, centipedegrass, tall fescue, fine fescue, Kentucky bluegrass, and perennial ryegrass. Add a nonionic surfactant and repeat application after 2 to 3 weeks for improved postemergence control. Tank mix with prodiamine 65 WG for extended preemergence grassy weed control. Can be applied at seeding to all tolerant grasses except fine fescue. After turf germination, wait 4 weeks or until turf has been mowed twice before making a postemergence application. Also controls henbit, chickweed, dandelion, white clover, Florida betony, Florida pusley, ground ivy, oxalis, wild violet, creeping bentgrass, and yellow nutsedge.​
[sulfentrazone + prodiamine], MOA 14 + 3 (4 SC) (Echelon) 0.184 to 0.826 fl oz 0.5 to 2.25 pt 0.25 to 1.125
Precaution and Remarks: For use in residential and institutional lawns, athletic fields, sod farms, golf course fairways and roughs, roadsides, utility right-of-ways, railways, and industrial areas. Apply to turf following a second mowing if a good root system has been established. Apply up to 12 fluid ounces per acre to bentgrass at 0.5 inch or higher, fine fescue, and perennial ryegrass. Apply 18 to 24 fluid ounces per acre to perennial bluegrass, tall fescue, and all warm season grasses except St. Augustinegrass (do not apply) and bermudagrass (apply 18 to 36 fluid ounces per acre). For sod production, apply 6 months after establishment, and do not harvest within 3 months. Do not apply with adjuvants or surfactants. [Sulfentrazone + prodiamine should not be applied to cool-season turf with N-containing fertilizers unless some short-term discoloration is tolerable.
Postemergence Control
dicamba, MOA 4 (4 SL) (various brands) 1 to 2 tsp 0.5 to 1 pt 0.25 to 0.5
Precaution and Remarks: Apply as foliar spray to growing weeds. Prevent injury to ornamentals. Avoid rooting zone of shallow-rooted trees and shrubs.​
diglycolamine, MOA 4 (4 SL) (various brands) 1 to 4.5 tsp 0.5 to 2 pt 0.25 to 1
Precaution and Remarks: Do not exceed 1 pint per acre on bentgrass, carpetgrass, buffalograss, and St. Augustinegrass. Apply to newly seeded grasses after the second mowing. Do not exceed 0.25 pint per acre on extended sensitve plant roots on sandy soils and 0.5 pint per acre on clay soils.​

Species Data

  • GROWTH SEASON / LIFE CYCLE
    • perennial weed
  • GROWTH HABIT
  • LEAFLET NUMBER
    • one
  • LEAF MARGIN
    • smooth
  • LEAF HAIRS
    • none
  • LEAF / LEAFLET SHAPE
  • LEAF WIDTH
    • 1 - 2 inches
  • LEAF ARRANGEMENT
  • ROOT TYPE
  • FLOWER COLOR
    • yellowish - green (male flowers) or red (female flowers)
Red sorrel growth habit.Figure 1. Red sorrel growth habit.Red sorrel growth habit.Figure 2. Red sorrel growth habit.Red sorrel growth habit.Figure 3. Red sorrel growth habit.Red sorrel growth habit.Figure 4. Red sorrel growth habit.Red sorrel growth habit.Figure 5. Red sorrel growth habit.Red sorrel growth habit.Figure 6. Red sorrel growth habit.Red sorrel growth habit.Figure 7. Red sorrel growth habit.Red sorrel growth habit.Figure 8. Red sorrel growth habit.Red sorrel leaflet shape.Figure 9. Red sorrel leaflet shape.Red sorrel leaflet shape.Figure 10. Red sorrel leaflet shape.Red sorrel leaf arrangement.Figure 11. Red sorrel leaf arrangement.Red sorrel leaf arrangement.Figure 12. Red sorrel leaf arrangement.Red sorrel root type.Figure 13. Red sorrel root type.

Written By

Photo of Dr. Charles PeacockDr. Charles PeacockProfessor and Extension Turfgrass Specialist (919) 515-7615 charles_peacock@ncsu.eduCrop and Soil Sciences - NC State University
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This Extension factsheet can also be viewed at:
https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/red-sorrel