Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Bitter Dock, Broad-leaved Dock, Butter Dock
Rumex obtusifolius

Family: Polygonaceae
Genus: Rumex (ROO-meks) (Info)
Species: obtusifolius (ob-too-sih-FOH-lee-us) (Info)

Synonym:Rumex obtusifolius subsp. agrestis
Synonym:Rumex obtusifolius subsp. sylvestris
Synonym:Rumex obtusifolius var. sylvestris

4 members have or want this plant for trade.


36-48 in. (90-120 cm)

9-12 in. (22-30 cm)

USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)
USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)
USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun
Sun to Partial Shade

Seed is poisonous if ingested
Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:
Pale Green

Bloom Time:
Late Spring/Early Summer
Mid Summer


Other details:
May be a noxious weed or invasive

Soil pH requirements:
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall
Direct sow as soon as the ground can be worked
From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds

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to view:

By lmelling
Thumbnail #1 of Rumex obtusifolius by lmelling

By lmelling
Thumbnail #2 of Rumex obtusifolius by lmelling

By CaptMicha
Thumbnail #3 of Rumex obtusifolius by CaptMicha

By kennedyh
Thumbnail #4 of Rumex obtusifolius by kennedyh

By kennedyh
Thumbnail #5 of Rumex obtusifolius by kennedyh

By DMersh
Thumbnail #6 of Rumex obtusifolius by DMersh

By DMersh
Thumbnail #7 of Rumex obtusifolius by DMersh

There are a total of 13 photos.
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1 positive
1 neutral
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive lmelling On Dec 22, 2004, lmelling from Ithaca, NY (Zone 5b) wrote:

There are several types of dock in the US - two that mainly inhabit the Eastern and midwest US -- curly (Rumex crispus) and broadleaf (R. altissimus Wood) . The main difference between the two is that in curly dock, the leaves are narrower and wavy, but broad in the broadleaf variety. But Broadleaf dock also has a more handsome flower stalk, which may sometimes have multiple stems, whereas the curly variety is generally one flower stalk only that is less full and curly.

Dock grows mainly in ditches, pastures and along the roadside in mainly rural areas but may also be found in semi-shaded woodlands. The oblong, broad or wavy leaves appear in rosette form, but are actually alternate at the top of the long tap root.

The flowers are long green spikes of seeds which fade from green to a greenish-tan, then a rosy color in early July. Finally, the whole plant turns a deep dark brown in August.
Can spread by root fragments as well as seed.

The seed/stalks can be cut and air-dried in green, tan, rosy, or brown form for use in dried arrangements. Makes a very nice filler.

Neutral nutrility21 On Dec 21, 2004, nutrility21 from San Antonio, TX wrote:

DOCK, DOCKEN (rumex species) Gaelic: copag Medicinal uses: Poultice made of cleaned roots for nettle and bee stings. Roots boiled and mixed with beeswax and fresh butter made a healing ointment. Dye: Roots plus iron, and yarn mordanted in iron gave a rich dark brown, black can also be obtained but this can depend on the size and age of the plant. Seeds used with wool mordanted with alum produce colours ranging from amber to oxblood red depending on how long the dye is boiled. If the seedheads are picked late only dull brown colours will be produced. Other uses: Leaves eaten as greens or fed to cattle, stems can be combined with grasses to make baskets.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Fayetteville, Arkansas
Brookeville, Maryland
Sharon, Massachusetts
Jay, Oklahoma
Willis, Virginia
Seattle, Washington

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