Rumex altissimus Wood. - Pale Dock, Tall Dock

Rumex altissimus plant

Family - Polygonaceae

Stems - To +1m tall, often reclining with age, herbaceous, glabrous, from big deep taproot, typically simple but sometimes branched below the inflorescence, with darker green striations.

Leaves - Alternate, petiolate, sheathing. Ocrea scarious, drying to brown, NOT fringed with ciliate bristles, typically deciduous by fruiting period. Petiole to 4cm long. Blades to +20cm long, +/-5cm broad, entire, lanceolate to lance-elliptic, acute to acuminate at apex, fairly abruptly constricted at base to petiole, glabrous. Margins only slightly undulate.

Rumex altissimus leaves

Inflorescence - Terminal verticillate racemes in a panicle to +/-30cm tall, dense. Branches of panicle ascending. Pedicels of flowers to 1cm long, jointed below middle, glabrous.

Rumex altissimus inflorescenceInflorescence.

Flowers - Imperfect. Fruiting sepals green, drying to a brownish-copper color, to 6mm long, 5mm broad, entire. Tubercles 1, to 3.5mm long, 1.1mm broad. Achenes 3-sided, 3mm long, dark brown.

Rumex altissimus flowersPistillate flowers and a good look at the stem.

Rumex altissimus flowersStaminate flowers.

Rumex altissimus fruitsFruiting perianths.

Flowering - April - May.

Habitat - Moist ground by streams, sloughs, and ponds, thickets, waste ground, railroads.

Origin - Native to U.S.

Other info. - This species of Rumex is quite common throughout Missouri. The plant seems to prefer slightly moist ground but can grow in a variety of conditions because of its big taproot.
The young shoots of this plant and some other species in this genus can be cooked and eaten.

Photograph taken at the Kansas City Zoo, 5-17-00, and at the Dr. Frederick Marshall Conservation Area, Platte County, MO., 5-6-01.


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