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Rumex X patientia Sturm55.jpg
Patience dock
(Rumex patientia)
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Order: Caryophyllales
Family: Polygonaceae
Subfamily: Polygonoideae
Genus: Rumex
L. 1753
Type species
Rumex patientia

About 200, see text


Lapathum Mill.
Bucephalophora Pau
Sources: ING,[1] UniProt,[2] ITIS,[3] IPNI,[4] GRIN[5]

The docks and sorrels, genus Rumex L., are a genus of about 200 species of annual, biennial, and perennial herbs in the buckwheat family Polygonaceae.

Members of this family are very common perennial herbs growing mainly in the Northern Hemisphere, but various species have been introduced almost everywhere.

Some are nuisance weeds (and are sometimes called dockweed or dock weed), but some are grown for their edible leaves.

Rumex species are used as food plants by the larvae of a number of Lepidoptera species, and are the only host plants of Lycaena rubidus.[6]


They are erect plants, usually with long taproots. The fleshy to leathery leaves form a basal rosette at the root. The basal leaves may be different from those near the inflorescence. They may or may not have stipules. Minor leaf veins occur. The leaf blade margins are entire or crenate.

The usually inconspicuous flowers are carried above the leaves in clusters. The fertile flowers are mostly hermaphrodites, or they may be functionally male or female. The flowers and seeds grow on long clusters at the top of a stalk emerging from the basal rosette; in many species, the flowers are green, but in some (such as sheep's sorrel, Rumex acetosella) the flowers and their stems may be brick-red. Each seed is a three-sided achene, often with a round tubercle on one or all three sides.


These plants have many uses. Broad-leaved dock (Rumex obtusifolius) used to be called butter dock because its large leaves were used to wrap and conserve butter.

Rumex hymenosepalus has been cultivated in the Southwestern US as a source of tannin (roots contain up to 25%), for use in leather tanning, while leaves and stems are used for a mordant-free mustard-colored dye.

These plants are edible. The leaves of most species contain oxalic acid and tannin, and many have astringent and slightly purgative qualities. Some species with particularly high levels of oxalic acid are called sorrels (including sheep's sorrel, Rumex acetosella, common sorrel, Rumex acetosa, and French sorrel, Rumex scutatus), and some of these are grown as leaf vegetables or garden herbs for their acidic taste.[7][8]

In Western Europe, dock leaves are a traditional remedy for the sting of nettles,[9][10] and suitable larger docks (such as broad-leaved dock R. obtusifolius or curled dock R. crispus) often grow conveniently in similar habitats to the common nettle (Urtica dioica).

In traditional Austrian medicine, R. alpinus leaves and roots have been used internally for treatment of viral infections.[11]

Rumex nepalensis is also has a variety of medicinal uses in the Greater Himalayas, including Sikkim in Northeastern India.[12]

Fossil record[edit]

Several fossil fruits of Rumex sp. have been described from middle Miocene strata of the Fasterholt area near Silkeborg in Central Jutland, Denmark.[13]


Flowers of curled dock (R. crispus) with remarkable tubercles
Broad-leaved dock leaves (R. obtusifolius)


Dock, raw (Rumex spp.)
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy92 kJ (22 kcal)
3.2 g
Dietary fiber2.9 g
0.7 g
2 g
VitaminsQuantity %DV
Vitamin A equiv.
200 μg
Thiamine (B1)
0.04 mg
Riboflavin (B2)
0.1 mg
Niacin (B3)
0.5 mg
Vitamin B6
0.122 mg
Folate (B9)
13 μg
Vitamin C
48 mg
MineralsQuantity %DV
44 mg
2.4 mg
103 mg
0.349 mg
63 mg
390 mg
0.2 mg

Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Rumex". Index Nominum Genericorum. International Association for Plant Taxonomy. 2006-02-20. Retrieved 2008-07-01.
  2. ^ UniProt. "Taxonomy - Rumex (GENUS)". Retrieved 2008-07-01.
  3. ^ "Rumex graminifolius J.H. Rudolphi ex Lamb". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 1 July 2008.
  4. ^ "Plant Name Details for Rumex". International Plant Names Index (IPNI). International Organization for Plant Information (IOPI). Retrieved 2008-07-01.
  5. ^ Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN) (2005-08-04). "Genus: Rumex L." Taxonomy for Plants. USDA, ARS, National Genetic Resources Program, National Germplasm Resources Laboratory, Beltsville, Maryland. Retrieved 2008-07-02.
  6. ^ Warren, Andres; Harrera, Alfonso (15 March 2005). "Butterflies of Oregon Their Taxonomy, Distribution, and Biology" (PDF). Lepidoptera of North America. 6.
  7. ^ "Sorrel, Garden or Common [Rumex acetosa]".
  8. ^ Łuczaj, Łukasz (2008). "Archival data on wild food plants used in Poland in 1948". Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine. 4 (4). doi:10.1186/1746-4269-4-4. PMC 2275233. PMID 18218132.
  9. ^ "Recorded uses of' dock (Rumex sp.)". Ethnomedica. Archived from the original on 2008-11-20. Retrieved 2008-04-15.
  10. ^ "Be Nice to Nettles". Natural History Museum. 26 May 2006. Archived from the original on 2008-06-26.
  11. ^ Vogl, S; Picker, P; Mihaly-Bison, J; Fakhrudin, N; et al. (2013). "Ethnopharmacological in vitro studieson Austria's folk medicine-An unexplored lore in vitro anti-inflammatory activities of 71 Austrian traditional herbal drugs". J Ethnopharmacol. 149 (3): 750–71. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2013.06.007. PMC 3791396. PMID 23770053.
  12. ^ O'Neill, Alexander R.; Badola, Hemant K.; Dhyani, Pitamber P.; Rana, Santosh K. (29 March 2017). "Integrating ethnobiological knowledge into biodiversity conservation in the Eastern Himalayas". Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine. 13 (21). doi:10.1186/s13002-017-0148-9. Retrieved 2017-05-11.
  13. ^ Friis, Else Marie (1985). "Angiosperm Fruits and Seeds from the Middle Miocene of Jutland (Denmark)". The Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters. 24 (3).
  14. ^ "The Macabre Beauty of Bloody Dock". Paghat the Ratgirl.

External links[edit]