Virginia Tech Weed Identification Guide

Curly Dock: Rumex crispus

Weed Description: Taprooted perennial, developing a basal rosette of wavy-margined leaves and an unbranched stem that may reach 5 feet in height.   Found throughout the United States primarily as a weed of pastures, hay fields, forages, landscapes, and some agronomic crops.

Stems:  Unbranched, thick, without hairs, ridged, often reddish in color.

Seedling:  Stems below the cotyledons may be tinted maroon at the base. Cotyledons are rounded at the apex and narrowed to the base (spatulate-shaped).  Cotyledons are without hairs and occur on petioles.  Young leaves may have reddish patches on them and form a basal rosette.
Leaves: Lower rosette leaves are petioled, without hairs, alternately arranged on the stem, dark green with wavy margins. Stem leaves are arranged alternately along the stem, have a membranous sheath that encircles the stem (ocrea), and become progressively smaller up the flowering stalk.   Leaves become more reddish-purple with age.
Roots:  Large, fleshy tap-root, yellowish orange in color.

Flowers:  Occur in clusters on the upper portion of the elongating stem, consisting of greenish sepals that become reddish-brown with age.

Fruit:  An achene (2 mm long) that is triangular, glossy, and brown to reddish-brown. A papery 3-valved or 3-winged structure surrounds the achene.
Identifying Characteristics:   Leaves with markedly wavy-margins. This weed may be confused with Broadleaf Dock (Rumex obtusifolius). However, the much wider and less wavy leaves of broadleaf dock help to distinguish the two species.