Curly Dock or Yellow dock

A little about curly dock:

Common Name: Curly Dock
Scientific Name: Rumex crispus
Family: Buckwheat/Smartweed Family (Polygonaceae)
Other Common Names: Curled Dock, Yellow Dock, Yaller Dock, Sour Dock, Bitter Dock, Bloodwort, Coffee-weed, Garden-patience, Narrowdock, Out-sting, Winter Dock
Flower Color: Green
Habitat: Fields, highway ditches, waste grounds, disturbed soils, riverbanks, found coast to coast in North America
General Bloom Dates: June - September

    Caution do not let sheep eat curly or yellow dock it can kill them.


General Characteristics:
The tiny green flowers grow in dense heads up a spire. Each flower has six sepals that are light green/white/pink in color. Curly dock is a biennial plant, which means it takes two years to reach the flowering stage.
Alternate. The leaves have a coarse texture and wavy leaf margins with noticeably curled edges. Small veins curve out towards the edge of the leaf and then back in towards the central vein. Older leaves have a red primary vein. At the base of the stalk there is a basal rosette of leaves. The leaves grow in a circular pattern and are long (up to 2 ft) and narrow (3 1/2 in wide). There is a papery sheath that covers the seed and the leaf axil, a common characteristic of the Buckwheat family.
The winged seeds are dark brown. Seed wings are described as triangular shaped or heart shaped. There are up to 40,000 seeds per plant!
The plant grows 3-5 feet tall. New growth can be observed in the spring alongside last year's brown stalks. The new plant is green, 12 - 18 inches high with wavy green leaves.
Taproots are long, stout, and yellow. A plant can regenerate from only the roots.

EDIBLE PARTS: Leaves, flowers and seeds. HARVEST TIME: Only collect plants from areas you know have NOT been treated with pesticides. Gather leaves during early spring through early summer. Gather flowers during spring and summer. SAFE HANDLING PROCEDURES: Wash edible parts thoroughly with warm water. Do not use dish detergent or any type of sanitizer. These products can leave a residue. Use fresh in salads. Or, add leaves to soups and stews. Steep into a liquid that can be used to create a lemonade-type drink. Leaves can also be used to stuff fish. As leaves mature, they lose their sourness. To freeze, blanch for one minute, drain, pat dry and pack in plastic bags. Use flowers in salads or cooked. Seeds (collected during spring through summer) are very small but can be ground into meal. Boiling the seeds adds a red color and variety to liquids or soups. SOURCE: Larson, Ken. 1995. God's Free Harvest, Rhema Publishing, Inc., Suwanee, GA. 231 pp.
For Rumex crispus, Curly dock: EDIBLE PARTS: Edible as cooked greens in limited quantities; cook in 2 waters and add baking soda to neutralize acid. HARVEST TIME: Use young leaves in early spring. SAFE HANDLING PROCEDURES: Cook leaves in small amount of water for about 10 minutes. If too bitter, change water 2-3 times. SOURCE: Elias, T.S. and P.A. Dykeman. 1982. Field Guide to North American Edible Wild Plants. Outdoor Life Books, New York, 286 pp. Peterson, L. 1978. A Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, 330 pp.



                                                                     HOW IT WORKS IN THE BODY

 The presence of anthraquinones in yellow dock enables the herb to function as a laxative. In fact, yellow dock is mainly prescribed by herbal medicine practitioners for its laxative and cleansing properties. The anthraquinones invigorate the colon which in the process helps to throw out the waste and toxins from the body. It may be noted here that any substance that has laxative property also helps in cleansing the system when taken in small proportions. However, when they are taken in large doses they act as purgatives leading to peristalsis (causing a rippling motion of muscles in the intestine) and gripping pain. Nevertheless, when yellow dock is taken in the right doses, it acts gently and helps to alleviate constipation. In addition, the yellow dock is also beneficial for the digestive system. When mixed with other herbs, yellow dock is also useful in assisting the liver, removing toxins from the skin as well as healing ailments like eczema, psoriasis, and acne. Yellow dock also acts as a cleansing agent in the musculoskeletal system where there is regular accumulation of toxins owing to constipation.


                                                      Things you can so with it...

Most important next to using the leaves and roots, is making flour with the seeds.  

It is very much like buckwheat flour and super good for you.

Once the seeds have turned brown harvest them and make sure you pick out anything that is not seed. i.e. bugs, rocks, grass, whatever it maybe.
It is super easy to make flour, get your blender out and pulse the seeds till they become flour.  If you are not using the flour that day consider storing in the fridge or freezer.  Use in the same way you use whole buck wheat me they make yummy pancakes.


Fermented Curly Dock Leaves

2 large handfuls of young curly dock leaves
1 T salt(5ml)
1 clean quart-sized Mason jar

Wash your curly dock leaves well. Take a clean quart sized canning jar and place rolled leaves into jar.

Add salt to roughly 3 cups of water and pour over curly dock leaves, leaving at least 1 inch of headspace in the jar.

Push leaves down to the bottom of the jar, and if they float to the top you will need to weight them down.

All leaves need to be submerged below liquids, otherwise mold will form! Cover tightly and keep at room temperature for about 3 days, then transfer to cold storage (refrigerator or root cellar).



Slowly boil the roots until half the water has evaporated. Strain and melt the honey in the liquid, heating slowly. Keep this syrup cool: it's ideal in the fall for treating respiratory ailments. Take 1 t (5 ml), 3 times daily, as a pectoral, and laxative syrup.



          Homemade Root Beer Syrup


Now I know this is not a traditional root beer. Traditional root beer is brewed with yeast, is mildly alcoholic and can be tricky to make. This recipe will give you a root beer flavored syrup that tastes amazing, is stable in the fridge for a year, and needs only seltzer water or club soda to become a wonderful homemade root beer.


When you make your root beer, start with a tablespoon of this syrup to a pint of seltzer water.

You can adjust the strength of your drink from there.

Makes 2 quarts.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes



  1. Run the sassafras and burdock roots in a food processor until they become small pieces into small pieces, about inch or smaller.

  2. Put the roots in a medium-sized heavy pot with the clove, star anise and coriander seeds and cover with the water. Cover the pot and bring it to a boil. Simmer this for 15 minutes.

  3. Add the molasses and simmer another 5 minutes.

  4. Turn off the heat and add the wintergreen or peppermint extract.  Put the cover back on the tea.

  5. When the mixture cools, strain it though cheesecloth to remove any debris.

  6. Return it to the pot with an equal amount of sugar. Stir to combine.

  7. Bring it to a simmer and cook it for 5 minutes, uncovered.

  8. Pour into sterile quart mason jars and seal.

  9. Keeps a year in the fridge.


                                                     Caution do not let sheep eat curly or yellow dock it can kill them.


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