Foraging Wild Greens: Curly Dock

Photo of Curly Dock spring rosette

A member of the buckwheat family (Polygonaceae), Curly Dock (Rumex crispus) is a widespread, resilient, and valuable herbaceous plant. In winter, the dead standing stalks of Curly Dock can help you notice where this plant likes to grow. Visit these places in spring and look for the plant's basal leaves, which feature crisped, or curly, margins, as the species name crispus describes.

Photo of Curly Dock leaf

Curly Dock has numerous edible and medicinal uses. I enjoy the young leaves as a cooked green.  Other foragers report enjoying the tender leaves in their raw form, the seeds when ground and included in baked goods, and the young, peeled, boiled stalks. This plant is also known as Yellow Dock.  This name refers to the yellow taproot, which can be tinctured (or otherwise prepared) and used for a variety of medicinal purposes.  I've also made a quick poultice -- chewing up a leaf and applying it to the affected skin -- to relieve the sting of Stinging Nettles (Urtica dioica).

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