Rumex crispus - curly dock

Family: Polygonacea
Wetland Indictor Status: FAC+

General Species Description

Curly dock is an introduced forb approximately 50 to 150 cm tall often with reddish or purplish tint over leaves and stems. It has a single stout stem that branched where it supports flowers. Distinguished in late summer months by its "rusty" appearance.


Long and narrow with curly edges. The upper leaves are smaller than the lower leaves. The basal leaves are oblong to lance shape growing to 40 cm long and 5 cm wide. The leaves are unique because of their crisp wavy margins.


The flowers are a green tint with smooth to shallowy toothed margins. The tepals have prominent bumps later becoming more distinguishable as the fruits mature. The flowers then turn brown or rusty and papery dried out.


The 2 mm long fruits are formed on short stocks. They are net veined with a central swelling and smooth margins.


Rumex crispus readily occupies disturbed areas and wet places, such as wet meadows and pastures. They are well adapted to areas that completely dry during the summer months.


It is non-native to Oregon, however, it is widely established in the valleys and flood plains of the Pacific Northwest.

Similar Species

Rumex crispus is most similar with other species of Rumex. Look carefully at the leaves, Rumex crispus has mostly lanced shaped leaves with wavey margins.

Ecological Value

Rumex is an opportunistic wetland species that is able to withstand a dry period. Because of its resilience it is able to help create a stable environment.

Human Value

Humans have yet to discover and exploit any economic values relating to Rumex crispus.


Cooke, S. S. 1997. A Field Guide to the Common Wetland Plants of Western Washington & Northwestern Oregon. Seattle Audubon Society, Seattle WA, 177 p. Guard, B. J. 1995. Wetland Plants of Oregon and Washington. Lone Star Publishing, Richmond WA, 102 p. Pojar, J. and A. MacKinnon. 1994. Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast, Washington, Oregon,British Columbia, and Alaska . Lone Star Publishing,Richmond WA 130 p.

This page was created by: S. J. Carey, August 1998

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