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Rumex obtusifolius - Broad-leaved Dock

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

Broad-leaved Dock

Description

This member of the knotweed/buckwheat family can grow up to two metres in height, although about a metre is more typical.

Flowers and rioening seeds of Broad-leaved Dock

Broad-leaved Dock has ribbed green stems that usually turn reddish as the seeds develop, distinctive broad leaves with crinkly edges, and oval flattened green flowers that gradually turn pinkish and then brown as the fruits develop.

Seeds of Broad-leaved Dock

Distribution

This perennial wildflower is common throughout the UK and Ireland.

Flowering times

The flower heads turn from green through red to brown between June and October.

Broad-leaved Dock in dune grassland

The stems are usually unbranched until just below the inflorescence, which comprises numerous clusters of flowers around the stems.

Habitat

Broad-leaved Dock is very common and abundant on roadsides, woodland edges, wasteland and permanent pastures with deep nutrient-rich soil. It is also a nuisance weed in many urban and rural gardens.

Similar species

Apart from Buckwheat Fagopyrum esculentum, Curled Dock Rumex crispus whose curly leaves are narrow and Common Sorrel Rumex acetosa with its upright pointed arrow-like leaves, other members of the Knotweed/Buckwheat family include French Sorrel, a small, slim relative of Common Sorrel, and the invasive alien plant Japanese knotweed.

Etymology

Rumex, the genus name for docks and sorrels, may come from the Latin noun Rumex, meaning a dart or a jevelin - a reference to the narrow pointed leaves of sorrels and some kinds of docks. The specific epithet obtusifolius means with obtuse (broad and blunt) leaves.

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


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