Curly dock may sound like a fantastical marina attraction, but it’s actually an edible weed you probably already have growing nearby.
Curly dock (Rumex crispus) is also known as yellow dock or curled dock. There are several subspecies of curly dock, each adapted to distinct habitats. Curly dock is a perennial plant native to Western Asia and Europe. It is now found throughout the United States and Canada. Generally speaking, curly dock is considered an invasive weed. To make matters worse, curly dock is also a host plant of cutworms. Before you write off this sour salad green, keep in mind that it is also host to the ruddy copper butterfly, and it contains high levels of iron, vitamins A and C, and potassium.
Eating curly dock
Cousin to sorrel, and a member of the buckwheat family, curly dock leaves are larger and more bitter than its stylish relations. This bitterness is caused by oxalic acid. As such, only the young, tender leaves are harvested and eaten. You can also reduce the bitterness by boiling leaves in multiple changes of water, the same way some people cook collards. Mature leaves are generally too bitter to eat.
Curly dock description
Curly dock seedlings can be green or tinged with red. Wavy or curled leaves grow in a rosette, close to the ground, while flower stalks, or inflorescences, can reach 3 to 5 feet in height. Flowers are produced in clusters on these stalks. Fruits are triangular achenes, much like buckwheat. Curly dock seeds tend to catch on fur and sweaters, helping spread the species far and wide. Underground, curly dock features a large, forked yellow taproot.
If you’s rather get rid of the curly dock in your garden, limit wet areas. Curly dock loves moisture. Also, be sure to cut off and dispose of seed heads before they mature. Eventually, you will reduce the curly dock population in your garden.
If you happen to get stung by stinging nettles, rub a large curly dock leaf over the area to relieve some of the pain.
You can grow a surprising amount of food in your own yard. Ask me how!