Ontario Weeds: Curled dock

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Excerpt from Publication 505, Ontario Weeds, Order this publication

Table of Contents

  1. Name
  2. Other Names
  3. Family
  4. General Description
  5. Stems and Roots
  6. Leaves
  7. Flowers and Fruit
  8. Habitat
  9. Similar Species
  10. Related Links

Name: Curled dock, Rumex crispus L.,

Other Names: patience crépue, Curly dock, Narrow-leaved dock, Sour dock, Yellow dock, patience, rumex crépu

Family: Buckwheat Or Smartweed Family (Polygonaceae)

General Description: Perennial, spreading only by seed.

Photos and Pictures

Curled dock.

Curled dock.

Curled dock. A. Seedling in cotyledon stage. B. Seedling in 4th ltue-leaf stage. C. Rosette. D. Base of mature plant. E. Inflorescence. F. Single, 3-winged "fruit".
Curled dock.
A. Seedling in cotyledon stage. B. Seedling in 4th ltue-leaf stage. C. Rosette. D. Base of mature plant. E. Inflorescence. F. Single, 3-winged "fruit".

Stems & Roots: Stems erect, 1 m (40 in.) or taller, from a thick, yellowish, deeply penetrating, simple or branching taproot 

Leaves: Leaf shape variable: cotyledons (first 2 seed leaves) very narrow, dull green and mealy-surfaced; first true leaves roundish in outline; rosette leaves long, 10-30cm (4-12in.) or longer, narrow, with rounded or tapered bases, very wavy-margined, curled or "crisped," sour-tasting; stem leaves alternate (1 per node), similar but smaller upwards, base of each leaf-stalk flattened, expanded and somewhat encircling the stem at the node, and with a prominent ocrea (membranous sheath) up to 5 cm (2in.) long which becomes brown and papery with age; the lower stem leaves dying as the plant matures.

Flowers & Fruit: Flowers small, greenish clustered in whorls around the branches of the terminal inflorescence, becoming at maturity a thick branched mass of light brown to dark brown "fruits"; each fruit with 3 tiny sepals and 3 large, wing-like, smooth-margined, papery sepals or "valves", with 1 prominent, egg-shaped, corky bump (tubercle or "grain") on the back of each of the 3 large sepals, and enclosing a small, shiny, reddish-brown fruit ("seed") which is triangular in cross-section, pointed at both ends and about 2mm (1/12in.) long. Flowers from June to July.

Habitat: Curled dock is a common weed of moist situations such as meadows, low pastures, riversides, roadsides, depressions in cultivated fields, and occasionally on sandy uplands throughout Ontario.

Similar Species: It is distinguished from similar plants by its long, narrow leaves with curled and wavy margins, the base of the leaf blades being rounded or narrowed towards the leafstalks, and the 3 wing-like sepals (valves) of the fruit with relatively smooth margins (no teeth) and each one bearing an enlarged corky tubercle.

Related Links

... on general Weed topics
... on weed identification, order OMAFRA Publication 505: Ontario Weeds
... on weed control, order OMAFRA Publication 75: Guide To Weed Control

 

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For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300
E-mail: ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca
Author: OMAFRA Staff
Creation Date: 01 June 2002
Last Reviewed: 01 November 2003