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Curly Dock

(Rumex crispus)

Other Names:

Curled Dock, Curled Duck, Dock, Yellow Dock

Range:

Family:

Polygonaceae Buckwheat family (also known as the knotweed or smartweed family)

Identifying characteristics:

Growth Type:

Perennial herbaceous

Height:

Up to 3 ft high

Leaves:

Smooth leaves jutting out from a basal rosette. The common name curly dock comes from leaves which have curled or wavy margins.

Stem/Trunk:

Leaf stems are green to red tinted.

Root:

Large yellow forking taproot.

Flower:

Season:

Summer

Appearance:

Reddish/brown flower stalk about 1 meter high. The flower stem is branched and bears multiple flower clusters.

Seed/Fruit:

The shiny brown seeds are encased in the calyx of the flower. This casing causes the seeds to float.

Miscellaneous characteristics:

An invasive species that has taken over many areas of North America.

Habitat:

Moist, rich, heavy soils of roadsides, meadows, fields, disturbed or waste areas, shorelines, and forest edges.

Parts Used:

Young leaves, seeds, roots

Uses:

Wild Food Uses:

The high amounts of oxalic acid gives the young leaves a pleasant sour flavor. I love to eat them raw, as well as add them to salads. The plant is very high in vitamin A, protein, iron, thiamin, riboflavin, and potassium. As the plant matures, the leaves become much to bitter to be palatable. The young leaves can also be used as a potherb. The seeds can be gathered and used as you would other members of the buckwheat family. It can be boiled and eaten as a porridge of sorts. It can also be ground and used as a buckwheat flour.

 

I have heard anecdotal evidence that because of certain compounds, eating too many leaves can increase ones risk of kidney stones. Some people have also been known to have slight gastric upset from eating this plant. As with all wild foods, if you eat them in moderation you should be able to forestall any undesirable effects.

The following text is meant for informational purposes only. It is not meant to diagnose or treat any illness or injury. Always consult with a physician or other qualified medical care provider concerning the diagnosis and treatment of any illness or injury.

Medicinal Uses:

The roots are highly prized in natural medicine. The root is very high in iron, and is therefore quite useful in the treatment of anemia. the root can be dried and powdered for future use. This powder can then be placed in capsules, and taken to combat anemia. The plant has also been shown to be very useful for treating respiratory conditions.

Medicinal Actions:

Alterative, Antiscorbutic, Astringent, Cholagogue, Depurative, Laxative

 

This photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

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Revised: 05/11/16 Living Afield