Winter Plant ID: Curly Dock

Curly Dock or Rumex crispus is a common plant in many disturbed areas.  Its leaves have curly or crisped margins, not unlike lasagna noodles, and the unearthed taproot is yellow, which accounts for this plant's other common name, Yellow Dock.  Winter is a fine time to meet this perennial plant which has two distinctive winter forms.

Photo of Curly Dock seeds

Plants that have flowered and gone to seed have seed-covered stalks that often last throughout winter. When snow covers the ground, this is the only form noticeable.

Photo of Curly Dock rosette

In snow-free areas, you can also find leafy rosettes of Curly Dock. Depending on age and specific site conditions, rosettes can consist of just a few small leaves, or, like the one pictured, can have many dozens of variously sized leaves. In winter, these leaves are often partly or entirely red. The largest leaves on this rosette look like slimy goners to me, but the plant appears to have many living leaves over one foot long.

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