Curly dock

Rumex crispus L. Polygonaceae (Smartweed family)

Life cycle

Erect, taprooted simple perennial.


Alternate, long and narrow with round to pointed tips and wavy margins. Leaves are shaped like bacon strips.


The plant forms a basal rosette that bolts prior to flowering, unbranched, reaching 3 to 4 feet in height. A membranous sheath (ocrea) surrounds the stem at the base of each petiole.

curly dock rosette
Curly dock rosette.

Flowers and fruit

Flowers are small, usually greenish and found in clusters on the upper stems; they become reddish brown at maturity. The seed is enclosed in a single-seeded, shiny, reddish brown, three-sided fruit.

curly dock flower cluster
Curly dock flower cluster.


Seeds and fleshy taproot.

curly dock mature seedhead curly dock seedling
Curly dock mature seedhead (right). Curly dock seedling (left).

Similar weeds

Broadleaf dock (R. obtusifolius L.)
Differs by having much wider, broader leaves and usually heart-shaped leaf bases

broadleaf dock rosette broadleaf dock leaf
Broadleaf dock rosette (right). Broadleaf dock leaf (left).

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