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Broad-leaved Dock

Scientific Name: Rumex obtusifolius
Other names: Blunt-leaved Dock, Round-leaved Dock, Common Wayside Dock
Family: Polygonaceae

A perennial found in pastures and invades the garden. Seeds germinate from Autumn to Summer forming a basal rosette of leaves. The main stems grow from June onwards up to 1 m high and die back after the seeds mature, but remain as brown stalks to disperse the seed. The fleshy orange-brown roots are usually branched and a small fragment can regenerate if left in the ground.

The flowers are reddish-brown resembling seeds. The fruit are roughly triangular with one or two swollen seeds which have a thin tooth-edged wing or membrane surrounding them. The pollen can be a problem for hayfever sufferers.

Along with the Dandelion the Dock is widely reported in folk medicine with many uses. It has astringent and laxative properties due to the tannin and anthraquinone content. The main remedies are for use externally such as for eczema and psoriasis, using an infusion of the dried and ground root. The fresh, bruised leaves are used to sooth nettle stings or the pulped root can be applied as a poultice. Other skin ailments such as bruises, sores, rashes and infected wounds have been treated with a dressing of the leaves or roots. The leaves are a good substitute for toilet paper if caught short while in the outdoors.
The leaves can also be boiled as a pot herb (in two changes of water to remove some toxins), and are said to improve vision. The oxalic acid in them makes a useful meat tenderiser in stews. The ground seeds were used as a flour in earlier times.
A similar plant is the Curled Dock or Yellow Dock (Rumex crispus) which has narrower, more pointed leaves with wavy edges.
Both are proscribed under the Weeds Act 1959 and must be controlled in agricultural land.

Remove at the earliest appearance before the perenniating roots can develop. When digging use a fork to avoid chopping them up. Regular close mowing will kill off most infestations.
Glyphosate is the best herbicide to use as a spot weeder or widespread on paths.
Treat in grass at the early rosette stage with a selective herbicide, but there is no need to treat in a regularly mowed lawn.

picture of young BROAD-LEAVED DOCK

Nicholas Culpepper
(17th century astrologer-physician)
"The Red Dock, also known as Bloodwort, cleanseth the blood and strengthens the liver, but The Yellow Dock root is best used when either the blood or liver is affected by choler.
All the docks have a cooling, drying quality, Sorrel being most cold and the Bloodworts most drying. The seed of the Dock does stay laxes and fluxes of all sorts, and is helpful for those that spit blood.
The roots boiled in vinegar helpeth the itch, scabs and breaking out of the skin, if it be bathed therewith. The distilled water of the herb and root cleanseth the skin from freckles, morphews and other spots and discolourings."

Choler - bile.

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