The mature plant is a reddish brown color, 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, yellow, forking taproot.
Curly Dock grows in a wide variety of habitats, including disturbed soil, waste areas, roadsides, fields/meadows, shorelines, and forest edges. It prefers rich, moist and heavy soils.
Curly 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. It is designated an "injurious weed" under the UK Weeds Act 1959. It is often seen in disturbed soils at the edges of roadsides, railway beds, and car parks.
Uses and toxicity
It can be used as a wild leaf vegetable; the young leaves should be boiled in several changes of water to remove as much of the oxalic acid in the leaves as possible or can be added directly to salads in moderate amounts. Once the plant matures it becomes too bitter to consume. Dock leaves are an excellent source of both vitamin A and protein, and are rich in iron and potassium. Curly Dock leaves are somewhat tart due to the presence of high levels of oxalic acid, and although quite palatable, this plant should only be consumed in moderation as it can irritate the urinary tract and increase the risk of developing kidney stones.
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (July 2012)|
- Flora of North America Editorial Committee, ed. (2005). "Rumex crispus". Flora of North America: Magnoliophyta: Caryophyllidae, pt. 2. Oxford University Press. p. 522. ISBN 9780195222111.
- Richard H. Uva, Joseph C. Neal and Joseph M. Ditomaso, Weeds of The Northeast, (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1997), Pp. 286-287.
- Flora of North America Editorial Committee, ed. (2005). "Rumex crispus". Flora of North America: Magnoliophyta: Caryophyllidae, pt. 2. Oxford University Press. p. 523. ISBN 9780195222111.
- Lee Allen Peterson, Edible Wild Plants, (New York City: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1977), p. 154.
- Camazine, Scott and Robert A. Bye 1980 A Study Of The Medical Ethnobotany Of The Zuni Indians of New Mexico. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 2:365-388 (p. 378)