Curly Dock (Rumex crispus) - TheBackCountry

Rumex crispus, the curly dock, curled dock or yellow dock, is a perennial flowering plant in the family Polygonaceae, native to Europe and Western Asia.

The plant produces an inflorescence or flower stalk that grows to about 1 m high. It has smooth leaves shooting off from a large basal rosette, with distinctive waved or curled edges. On the stalk flowers and seeds are produced in clusters on branched stems, with the largest cluster being found at the apex. The seeds are shiny, brown and encased in the calyx of the flower that produced them. This casing enables the seeds to float on water and get caught in wool and animal fur, and this helps the seeds to spread to new locations. The root-structure is a large, yellow, forking taproot.

Rumex crispus has a number of subspecies with distinctive habitat preferences. The plant produces an inflorescence or flower stalk that grows to about 1 m high. It has smooth leaves shooting off from a large basal rosette, with distinctive waved or curled edges. On the stalk flowers and seeds are produced in clusters on branched stems, with the largest cluster being found at the apex. The seeds are shiny, brown and encased in the calyx of the flower that produced them. This casing enables the seeds to float on water and get caught in wool and animal fur, and this helps the seeds to spread to new locations. The root-structure is a large, yellow, forking taproot.

Curly dock grows in a wide variety of habitats, including disturbed soil, waste areas, roadsides, fields/meadows, shorelines, and forest edges. It is widely naturalised throughout the temperate world and has become a serious invasive species in many areas, including throughout North America, southern South America, New Zealand and parts of Australia. It spreads through the seeds contaminating crop seeds, and sticking to clothing. It is classified as an "injurious weed" under the UK Weeds Act 1959. It is often seen in disturbed soils at the edges of roadsides, railway beds, and car parks.

The curled dock is an optimal host plant for certain Lepidoptera species including, Agrotis ipsilon (black cutworm). Adult moths oviposit on these dense, low-lying leaves during the spring/summer season.

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