Curled Dock (Rumex crispus), also known as Curley Dock or Yellow Dock, is a perennial flowering plant in the family Polygonaceae, native to Europe and western Asia, but invasive in other parts of the world.
The mature plant is a reddish brown colour, and produces a stalk that grows to about 1 m high. It has smooth leaves shooting off from a large basal rosette, with distinctive waved or curled edges. On the stalk flowers and seeds are produced in clusters on branched stems, with the largest cluster being found at the apex. The seeds are shiny, brown and encased in the calyx of the flower that produced them. This casing enables the seeds to float on water and get caught in wool and animal fur, and this helps the seeds to spread to new locations. The root-structure is a large, a yellow, forking taproot.
Curled Dock is a widespread naturalised species throughout the temperate world, which has become a serious invasive species in many areas, including throughout North America, southern South America, New Zealand and parts of Australia. It spreads through the seeds contaminating crop seeds, and sticking to clothing.
Curled Dock grows in roadsides, all types of fields, and low-maintenance crops. It prefers rich, moist and heavy soils.
It can be used as a wild leaf vegetable; the young leaves should be boiled in several changes of water, or can be added directly to salads. Once the plant matures it becomes too bitter to consume. Dock leaves are an excellent source of both vitamine A and protein.
- Mowing: Generally not found as a lawn weed, but can survive occaiasional mowing
- Cultivation: Cultivation is only effective on seedlings, as the plants develop thick taproots
- Pulling: Pulling is a good technique, though care should be taken to get the deep roots
- Barriers: This plant can push up light barriers
- Disposal: Safe to compost, but hot piles only if seeds are present.
- Richard H. Uva, Joseph C. Neal and Joseph M. Ditomaso, Weeds of The Northeast, (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1997), Pp. 286-287.
- Lee Allen Peterson, Edible Wild Plants, (New York City: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1977), p. 154.
- A Modern Herbal: Docks