Dock (Rumex spp)

Latin Name: Rumex

Family: Polygonaceae

dock

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Description: An erect herb. It can grow up to 1 m tall. It keeps growing from year to year. The leaves are smooth. They are sword shaped or oblong and up to 30 cm long. They are wavy along the edges. The leaves at the base are larger with larger leaf stalks. The flowers are very small. They are greenish. They are crowded in rings on a branched flower stalk. The flowering stems can be 1.2 m high. The fruit is dry and one seeded. It is 3 angled. The seed valves are broad and 4-6 mm long. They do not have spines.

Notes:  

Edibility Rating out of 5: 2

Medicinal Rating out of 5: 3

Edible Uses: Leaves – raw or cooked. They can also be dried for later use. The leaves can be added to salads, cooked as a potherb or added to soups. Only the very young leaves should be used, preferably before the stems have developed, and even these are likely to be bitter. If used in early spring and in the autumn they can often be fairly pleasant tasting. The leaves are very rich in vitamins and minerals, especially iron and the vitamins A and C. Stems – raw or cooked. They are best peeled and the inner portion eaten. Seed – raw or cooked. It can be used as a piñole or can be ground into a powder and used as a flour for making pancakes etc. The seed is very fiddly to harvest and prepare and can be roasted and used as a coffee substitute.

Warnings: Plants can contain quite high levels of oxalic acid, which is what gives the leaves of many members of this genus an acid-lemon flavour. Perfectly alright in small quantities, the leaves should not be eaten in large amounts since the oxalic acid can lock-up other nutrients in the food, especially calcium, thus causing mineral deficiencies. The oxalic acid content will be reduced if the plant is cooked. People with a tendency to rheumatism, arthritis, gout, kidney stones or hyperacidity should take especial caution if including this plant in their diet since it can aggravate their condition. Avoid during pregnancy & breast feeding.

Medicinal Uses: Alterative; Antiscorbutic; Astringent; Cancer; Cholagogue; Depurative; Homeopathy; Laxative; Poultice; Salve; Tonic.

Medicinal Information: Curled dock has a long history of domestic herbal use. It is a gentle and safe laxative, less powerful than rhubarb in its action so it is particularly useful in the treatment of mild constipation. The plant has valuable cleansing properties and is useful for treating a wide range of skin problems. All parts of the plant can be used, though the root is most active medicinally. The root is alterative, antiscorbutic, astringent, cholagogue, depurative, laxative and mildly tonic. It used to be sold as a tonic and laxative. It can cause or relieve diarrhoea according to the dose, harvest time and relative concentrations of tannin(astringent) and anthraquinones (laxative) that are present. It is used internally in the treatment of constipation, diarrhoea, piles, bleeding of the lungs, various blood complaints and also chronic skin diseases. Externally, the root can be mashed and used as a poultice and salve, or dried and used as a dusting powder, on sores, ulcers, wounds and various other skin problems. The root has been used with positive effect to restrain the inroads made by cancer, being used as an alterative and tonic. The root is harvested in early spring and dried for later use. Some caution is advised in its use since excess doses can cause gastric disturbance, nausea and dermatitis. The seed is used in the treatment of diarrhoea. A homeopathic remedy is made from the fresh root, harvested in the autumn.

Other Uses: 
Compost; Dye.

Yellow, dark green to brown and dark grey dyes can be obtained from the roots. They do not need a mordant. An alternative ingredient of ‘QR’ herbal compost activato, a dried and powdered mixture of several herbs that can be added to a compost heap in order to speed up bacterial activity and thus shorten the time needed to make the compost.

Resources:

Wikispiecies

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