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Rumex crispus

Rumex crispus L.

 

Curly Dock

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassMagnoliopsidaDicotyledons—plants with two initial seed leaves
SubclassCaryophyllidaeCacti, many other succulents, carnivorous plants, and leadworts
OrderCaryophyllalesIncludes cacti, carnations, amaranths, ice plants, and many carnivorous plants
FamilyPolygonaceaeKnotweed or smartweed family
GenusRumexAncient Latin for “docks or sorrels”
SpeciescrispusLatin for “curled” or “wavy,” in reference to the leaves

About plant names...

This species is native to Europe and western Asia, now widespread throughout North America and most of the rest of the planet as well. It is common in disturbed habitats, railroad beds, fallow fields, ocean beaches, and other wetland margins.

Plants: Plants are 12-55" (30-140 cm) in height, erect but with a few branches.

Leaves: A large basal rosette about 12" (30 cm) around consists of smooth-edged, distinctively wavy (“crisped”) alternate leaves. Each leaf is up to 6" (15 cm) × 1" (2.5 cm), oblong-lanceolate in shape, and hairless. Fruit—the upper portion of the plants—and stems become dark brown as the plant ages.

Flowers: A panicle of racemes of whorls of flowers appears at the upper 6-18" (15-45 cm). (In other words, there are a whole pile of tiny, greenish, weird-looking flowers.) Each yellowish or reddish green flower is about ⅛" (3.2 mm) long. If you look closely, it consists of 3 inner sepals, 3 outer sepals, 3 styles, and an ovary.

Fruits: Each flower becomes a heart-shaped, toothless fruit ¹/₁₆-⅛" (2-4 mm) that contains a single white seed. The seeds become dark brown, and can persist in the soil for up to 50 years.

These are closely similar:

 

Rumex crispus (Curly Dock)

Found a few feet from high tide, this could be the subspecies uglinosa or littoreus · 9/18/2016 · Deer Isle Beach Vegetation Reclamation Project

Rumex crispus (Curly Dock)

5/25/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Ayer, MA
≈ 14 × 21" (34 × 52 cm)

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Rumex crispus

Rumex obtusifolius
Common Name

Curly Dock

Broadleaf Dock
Plant 12-55" (30-140 cm) in height, erect but with a few branches. 12-48" (30-121 cm), on stout stems that don’t branch except just below the flowerheads.
Flowers A panicle of racemes of whorls of flowers appears at the upper 6-18" (15-45 cm). (In other words, there are a whole pile of tiny, greenish, weird-looking flowers.) Each yellowish or reddish green flower is about ⅛" (3.2 mm) long. If you look closely, it consists of 3 inner sepals, 3 outer sepals, 3 styles, and an ovary. On spike-like racemes, greenish, pinkish, or reddish. They appear from June to October.
Leaves A large basal rosette about 12" (30 cm) around consists of smooth-edged, distinctively wavy (“crisped”) alternate leaves. Each leaf is up to 6" (15 cm) × 1" (2.5 cm), oblong-lanceolate in shape, and hairless. Basal leaves are not arranged in a rosette, and are oval, oblong, or heart-shaped, usually red-veined.. Upper leaves are lanceolate. All leaves have wavy edges, but less so than with curly dock.
Fruit Each flower becomes a heart-shaped, toothless fruit ¹/₁₆-⅛" (2-4 mm) that contains a single white seed that matures to dark brown. ~¹/₁₆" (2-2.7 mm), comprised of triangular “valves” (wings), each with 2-4 spiny teeth on margins. One of the three wings has a seed.
Range/ Zones

Habitats Disturbed habitats, railroad beds, fallow fields, ocean beaches, and other wetland margins. Ditches, roadsides, wetlands, meadows, riparian areas, alfalfa and pasture fields (especially with poor drainage), orchards and other disturbed moist areas.
Type Wild Wild
Occurrence Common Common

 

Edibility: Stems and leaves are sometimes consumed with salad. Fairly high levels of oxalic acid make this plant mildly poisonous, and make regular consumption dangerous to people with a variety of pre-existing medical conditions. One death, from a soup made from the leaves, has been described.

Medical: No proven properties. Said to be laxative and mildly tonic.

Online References:

Rumex crispus at Illinois Wildflowers

Rumex crispus on ipm.ucanr.edu

Rumex crispus on Wikipedia

References:

Clemants, Steven; Gracie, Carol, Wildflowers in the Field and Forest, Oxford University Press, 2006, p. 232

Multiple Authors, PDR for Herbal Medicines, Thomson Healthcare Inc., 2007, p. 919

Rumex crispus (Curly Dock)

6/2/2014 · Big Bear Mountain, Brookline, MA
≈ 6 × 8" (14 × 20 cm)

Rumex crispus (Curly Dock)

8/4/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton Center, Groton, MA
≈ 10 × 13" (26 × 33 cm)

Rumex crispus (Curly Dock)

6/16/2013 · Birch Point State Park, Owl’s Head, ME
≈ 17 × 19" (42 × 47 cm)

Rumex crispus (Curly Dock)

7/7/2012 · Gibbet Hill, Groton, MA
≈ 3½ × 5" (9.2 × 13 cm)

Rumex crispus (Curly Dock)

6/22/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Ayer, MA
≈ 21 × 31" (52 × 78 cm) ID is dubious

Rumex crispus (Curly Dock)

6/13/2016 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton Center, Groton, MA

Rumex crispus (Curly Dock)

Found a few feet from high tide, this could be the subspecies uglinosa or littoreus · 9/18/2016 · Deer Isle Beach Vegetation Reclamation Project

Rumex crispus description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 24 Jun 2017.

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Rumex crispus (Curly Dock)

8/4/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton Center, Groton, MA
≈ 10 × 13" (26 × 33 cm)

Rumex crispus (Curly Dock)

Found a few feet from high tide, this could be the subspecies uglinosa or littoreus · 9/18/2016 · Deer Isle Beach Vegetation Reclamation Project

Rumex crispus (Curly Dock)

7/7/2012 · Gibbet Hill, Groton, MA
≈ 7 × 11" (18 × 27 cm)

Rumex crispus (Curly Dock)

6/13/2016 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton Center, Groton, MA

Rumex crispus (Curly Dock)

7/7/2012 · Gibbet Hill, Groton, MA
≈ 6 × 9" (14 × 22 cm)

Rumex crispus (Curly Dock)

6/2/2014 · Big Bear Mountain, Brookline, MA
≈ 9 × 6" (23 × 16 cm)

Rumex crispus (Curly Dock)

6/22/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Ayer, MA
≈ 16 × 24" (41 × 62 cm) ID is dubious

Range:

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