Rumex crispus L. - Curly Dock

Rumex crispus plant

Family - Polygonaceae

Stems - Stems to -2m tall, simple or branching at the apex, erect, from a big taproot, herbaceous, glabrous, ribbed, becoming red with age.

Rumex crispus stemStem of mature plant.

Leaves - Basal leaves petiolate, to +/-50cm long (with petiole). Ocrea to -15cm long, scarious. Petiole to 20cm long, carinate. Blade lanceolate, crisped, glabrous, acute, +/-11cm broad, +/-45cm long, rounded at base, not cordate. Cauline leaves to +/-14cm long, glabrous, with smaller petiole than basal leaves, more crisped than basal leaves.

Rumex crispus leafLeaf showing crisped margins.

Inflorescence - Terminal bracteate panicles to +/-40cm long (tall). Pedicels to 5mm long, with small swollen joint in basal 1/2.

Flowers - Outer perianth segments 3, 1.5mm long, green, glabrous, with scarious margins, rounded at apex. Inner perianth segments broadly ovate, to 2.5mm long in flower, glabrous, green. Ovary 3-sided, green, glabrous, 1mm long. Styles 3, reflexed, .6mm long. Stamens 6, adnate at base of perianth segments. Anthers yellow, to +1mm long. Filaments greenish, glabrous, 1mm long. Fruiting perianth segments becoming ferruginous, glabrous, to 5mm long, each with a tubercle. Tubercles to 1/2 the length of the fruiting perianth segments. Achenes ferruginous.

Rumex crispus fruitsFruiting perianth(s).

Rumex crispus plantPlant with mature fruits.

Flowering - April - May.

Habitat - Fields, roadsides, railroads, waste ground, disturbed sites.

Origin - Native to Eurasia.

Other info. - This aggressive species is found throughout Missouri. The plant spreads easily can grow to quite a large size.
The tissues of this species, and most plants in this genus, have high concentrations of oxalic acid and can be irritating to some people. Traditionally the plant is eaten or made into a tea for many ailments such and fever, scurvy, tumors, and cancer.

Photographs taken at the Kansas City Zoo, and off Mill St., Parkville, MO., 5-6-01, and in Van Buren, MO., 5-26-03.


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