*Edible common sorrel vs toxic lords & ladies*
I was out foraging with my friends’ kids in their local woods on Sunday afternoon
We were happily picking and munching zingy common sorrel (Rumex acetosa) but then I spotted a sneaky toxic lords & ladies (Arum maculatum) plant right next to us in the grassland (it’s far more typically found in woodland)
Arum maculatum (also known as cuckoopint, jack-in-the-pulpit, and lords & ladies) is a lily family member, and the leaves contain sharp oxalate crystals which irritate the skin, tongue and throat, causing swelling in the mouth and in cases of a particularly bad reaction to them it can cause anaphylaxis and asphyxiation… the red berries seen later in the year are even more toxic as they contain high levels of oxalate crystals… however all parts of the plant are capable of causing an allergic reaction
Common sorrel leaves are usually smaller than lords & ladies, but not always… and people who are familiar with french sorrel, which is typically much larger than the wild variety, will see a much closer resemblance and could possibly be fooled… lords & ladies often grow in amongst wild garlic, so check every leaf that goes into your basket, as L&L leaves sometimes don’t have yet have the two characteristic ‘tails’ flapping free of the stem at the base if the leaf when really young
Constant vigilance, foragers!