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Curly Dock: Rumex crispus

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Curly dock is a perennial weed in the buckwheat family. Fairly pleasant tasting, the leaves are very rich in vitamins, especially vitamins A and C, and can be eaten raw or cooked. The roasted seed has been used as a coffee substitute. It is also a very important food plant for the caterpillars of many butterflies.

In the spring, basal leaves emerge from a stout taproot.  These elongated leaves have wavy margins, thus the name "curly" dock. In summer, the plant has reddish, rigid stems, 2-4 feet tall. Flower stems have greenish flowers.

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Flower stem

This is a tenacious perennial weed that is found in lawns throughout the United States.   Its large taproot grows deep into the soil, which enables it to thrive in times when grass may be suffering from heat and lack of moisture.

In fall, winged fruits form on the flowering stems that are reddish-brown in color.

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Seed stalk

Curly dock is not easily pulled because of the deep taproot, and portions of this root left in the ground will regenerate.


Combination herbicides containing mecoprop, dicamba and 2,4-D are effective in the control of Curly dock.

Photographs courtesy of Judy Sedbrook.

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Date last revised: 01/05/2010