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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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Aquatic and Wetland Vascular Plants of the Northern Great Plains

15. Polygonaceae, the Smartweed Family

2. Rumex L. -- Dock

2. Rumex crispus L. -- Sour dock, curled dock


Stout, erect, usually single-stemmed perennial mostly 5-10 dm tall, from a thick taproot. Leaves basal and cauline, the basal leaves large and long-petioled, often drying early, the stem leaves decreasing in size and shorter-petioled upward; blades elliptic to oblong-lanceolate, those of the basal leaves 10-30 cm long, 1-5 cm wide, conspicuously undulate-crisped, cuneate to rounded at the base. Panicle large, the branches erect to ascending, intermixed with some linear leaves; pedicels mostly 1.5-2X the length of the valves, swollen-jointed below the middle. Valves cordate-deltate to ovate-deltate, mostly 3-5 mm long and about as wide, entire to scarcely erose; tubercles usually 3 (or absent from 1 or 2 of the valves), often unequal, the largest 1/2 or more the length of the valve; achenes brown, 2-2.5 mm long. Jul--Sep. Wet meadows, shores, ditches and other low areas; common, weedy; (Intro. from Eurasia, now naturalized throughout the U.S. and s Can. and most of the world).
gif-Rumex Crispis
GIF- Distribution Map

Map key

Rumex crispus. Other species are often confused with this one. Correct identification requires close inspection of the winglike valves surrounding the achene.  

Previous Species -- Rumex altissimus Wood -- Pale dock
Return to Family -- Polygonaceae - The Smartweed Family
Next Species -- Rumex maritimus L. -- Golden dock

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