Polygonaceae (Buckwheat Family)
Perennial with taproot; stem smooth, rather slender, 5-12 dm. high; lower
lvs. lanceolate to oblong-lanceolate, 1-3 dm.
long, with long petioles, strongly crisped marginally, acute, the upper
reduced; panicle strict, narrow, 1-5 dm. long; pedicels 5-10 mm. long, with
swollen joints near the base; outer sepals barely 1 mm. long; the valves in fr.
4-6 mm. long, round-ovate, subcordate, entire to minutely erose, usually with 3
equal or unequal callosities, rarely with only 1; aks. 2 mm. long.
Common weed in low places through much of N. Am.; 0-3000 m.
On most of our islands and occasional on desert.
Blooms most of the year.
Name: Rumex, is the ancient Latin name for the docks or sorrels. Crispus is also from Latin meaning "curled." (Dale 159).
Common in the study area. Photographed
in big Canyon and the Santa Ana Heights Flats.
The leaves make excellent potherbs and stuffings.
Its stems when young and tender may also be used for pie and sauce.
Dried root can be used as a gentle tonic, astringent, laxative and
alternative, and externally for itching. (ref. not recorded). In the far west, the Blackfeet
Indians mashed the roots into a pulp and applied it to human sores and swellings
and also to their horses for saddle sores.
Similar use among the Navajo is mentioned, and the Iroquois used the
plant as a food. (Coon 192). All of the species of Rumex
bear edible leaves and leaf stems, but some have less acid than others, a fact
easily discerned by tasting their tartness.
Those that are particularly tart or bitter should be boiled two or three
times in fresh water, which will remove most of the acid and yet leave a
pleasant flavor. Navajo Indians
formerly extracted a dye from the roots and the Hopi and Papago used them for
treating colds. (Kirk, 53,54). The root of the curled dock, Rumex
crispus, had an astringent quality that aided in healing cuts when pounded
and placed on the cut as a poultice. (Fielder
reported that merely repeating the incantation "Nettle out, Dock in, Dock
remove the Nettle sting." while rubbing dock leaves over the region of your
skin stung by the nettle would cause the ache to leave.
Delfina Cuero, a Kumeyaay or Southern Diegueno Indian, made the following
comments about Rumex crispus in her autobiography: "We ate the young leaves boiled as greens.
When the plant is old, gathered only the seed to grind on a metate for
pinole." (Shipek 96).
The activities of Yellow Dock are due to the yellow substances,
chrysophanic acid and emodin, as well as variable but substantial amounts of
tannin. Its primary uses are for
treating constipation, blood disorders, skin diseases, rheumatism, and
indigestion. (Moore, Medicinal
Plants of the Mountain West 166).
The roots of this herb have been
used for many purposes by former generations and still seem to be credited
with a sedative or soothing influence in such conditions as facial neuralgia.
It may have such strong reaction, however, including effect upon the
vision, that it should not be used as a
home remedy. (Meyer 145).
Rich and easily digested iron so essential for human, animal, and plant,
is one of the main contents of yellow dock.
Indians cut roots and steeped in boiling water for a tonic and a stomach
remedy; also, they washed roots and applied them to sores and swellings.
The pollen of cattails sweetened many dishes such as meal made from
unparched curly dock seeds. Cattail
pollen placed in a hollow stem of curly dock and baked in the coals for about 10
minutes made a kind of candy. (Campbell
Hickman, Ed. 894; Munz, Calif. Flora 357; Munz, Flora So. Calif.
706; Roberts 34.
Feb-Mar 83 # 19,20; June 2 83 # 3.
Identity: by R. De Ruff.
First Found: March 1983.
Computer Ref: Plant Data 261.
Have plant specimen.
Last edit 10/15/04.
March Photo June Photo