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What Plant is Also Known as Sheep Shar or Shire?

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I recall as I was growing up my mother told us that in the 1930s they were so poor that they ate something she referred to as "sheep shar or shire". Supposedly it is a weed.
Anyone ever hear of it? What is it?
She said they would gather and wash it and eat as a salad. They moved around a lot then as grandpa was looking for work. They were in Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Colorado. Not sure where this sheep shar or whatever was supposedly growing.

By Jim from Kansas City, KS


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By Miki H.05/22/2014

I know exactly what you are referring to because my dad used to call a plant "sheep shar" as well, but fortunately for me, I was still around and grew up eating it as well. He thought it was one of those cool little tricks you can teach kids and they will love it, and I did! "Sheep shar" from the Midwest, particularly the Missouri region IS NOT sheep sorrel. It is a very specific species of Oxalis (oxalis violacea). It is a deep purple/green with purple flowers that are just as refreshingly sharp tasting. Link included:

By Art S.04/01/2014

I do not think that Sheep shire, sorrel and lambs quarters are the same. Spending time on farms in OK and AR, my mother would make salads with supposedly had all 3 in it at the same time... along with Dandelion. I have been away from it for so long I came looking for it myself, for clairification on what it was. :)

By Susan D.04/28/2013

I am not sure what the scientific name is but as a child we loved to pick it as it grew wild in the yard and pasture. It looked like clover, it had yellow blooms, and made slender seed pods. It had a tart taste that we just loved. I live in East Texas now and don't remember seeing any around here. But I grew up in SE Oklahoma and my siblings,friends, and I all loved it. It is not "lambs quarter" that is a totally different plant.

By Elaine [129]12/11/2010

I can remember my mother cutting greens outside in the spring for a salad. It was close to our outhouse! LOL I imagine it was lamb's quarters because that is what is prevalent in my area. I thought she was crazy when I saw her cutting "the lawn" that way!

By KS Granny [3]12/10/2010

That reminds me of a story my Dad told me, of growing up in north central Kansas during WWI. His mother would send him and his three sisters out to pick lambsquarter along the railroad track. (Can you imagine any mother doing that today?) They would come home, proudly present their big bags full, and she would say, "That's a great start - now here's another bag!" They would gather three or four bags each before she decided they had enough for dinner.

Having picked and prepared wild lambsquarter myself as a young mother, I now understand why she wanted so much.Yyou can only use the tender growing tips for good greens, and the children were probably gathering whole branches. :)

Lambsquarter makes good cooked greens, if you're hungry enough and patient enough, but I can't quite imagine them in a salad; I suspect that your mother's weed was indeed sheep sorrel, based on the name.

Here is a picture of lambsquarter (or lamb's quarter, or lambsquarters, or whatever), of the North American variety, for anyone who wants to compare it to sheep sorrel: The leaves are much wider, and spearhead-shaped, below the seed head; the older leaves can get to be as big as a child's hand.

By Jim [24]12/06/2010

Thanks everyone, it probably is but since I've never seen it, possibly they mispronounced it or that was how THEY determined their own descriptive name for the plant. However the Rumex acetosela has a lot of medicinal values it seems. And it says it can be used in salads so maybe. I was just curious so thanks for your time.

By Sharon [9]12/05/2010

In the early 1900 my grand mother talked about eating what she called lambs quarters because it came up before the gardens were ready to eat. It was their way of getting fresh vegetables because it grew faster. This may be what your talking about. I looked for picture but couldn't find any plant with those names.

By Cindy [3]12/05/2010

Jim, Could this possibly be what you are remembering? (Link below.) I don't know anything about it, but I, too grew up with a lot of references to natural wild fauna references for food and medicinal purposes. Have no idea why, but your question rang a bell for me, but what I was remembering was "Sheep Sorrel". A quick search produced this link. Hope this is helpful.

By dupperdog [2]12/04/2010

Could it be sheep sorrel also known as sour dock? Scientific name is Rumex acetosela. This has been used as a salad herb.

By Jill [4]12/04/2010

Maybe it is lamb's quarters? It is a weed in most places, but is known to be a nutritional "powerhouse" as a green. I've never eaten it; but sure have pulled it!

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