Rumex crispus - Curled Dock

Phylum: Magnoliophyta - Class: Equisetopsida - Order: Caryophyllales - Family: Polygonaceae

Curled Dock


This member of the knotweed/buckwheat family can grow to more than a metre in height, although about 60cm is more usual.

Basal leaf of Curled Dock

Curled Dock has ribbed reddish stems, distinctive slender curled leaves, and oval flattened green flowers that gradually turn pinkish as the fruits develop.

Seeds of Curled Dock


This perennial wildflower is common throughout the UK and Ireland.

Flowering times

The flower heads turn from green through orange and red to brown between June and early September.

Curled Dock in dune grassland


Being a salt-tolerant plant, Curled Dock often grows in shoreline gravel and on disturbed ground beside coastal paths. Roadside verges, wasteland and some riverside margins that have been fenced off to keep cattle and sheep out are also ideal habitat for this perennial plant, which also occurs in some permanent pastures.

Similar species

Apart from Buckwheat Fagopyrum esculentum, the well known Broad-leaved Dock whose leaves are used to aleviate nettle stings, and Common Sorrel Rumex acetosa, other members of the Knotweed/Buckwheat family include French Sorrel, a small, slimmer relative of Curled Dock, and the invasive alien plant Japanese knotweed.


Rumex, the genus name for docks and sorrels, may come from the Latin noun rumex, meaning a dart or a jevelin - a reference ton the narrow pointed leaves. The specific epithet crispus means crinkled or curled.

The pictures shown on this page was taken in June and July in Wales.

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