Curly Dock


sour dock, yellow dock, narrow-leaved dock

Rumex crispus

Curly dock is a long taprooted simple (non-branching) perennial that grows in a rosette. The 6-8" long elliptical or lance-shaped leaves of curly dock have entire but wavy margins (not toothed). The youngest leaves smooth margins that get progressively more rippled as the leaf matures. The appearance of the mature leaves resembles leaf lettuce (very curly).

Curly dock is often a weed of low maintenance areas. In the absence of mowing, curly dock will produce several tall flower stalks in late summer. The flowers form greenish clusters at the top of the stem that turn brown as they ripen. The foliage can be covered with purple/brown spots that range from a few to covering the entire leaf as the nighttime temperatures drop toward the end of the growing season.

Curly dock frequents roadside ditchbanks and other low-maintenance areas and will thrive in nutrient-rich, damp soils.

  • Crops Affected: turf


    Curly dock will often be present near culverts and drainage ditches where proper turf management is difficult. A well established turf is usually enough to diminish the competitiveness of curly dock. Curly dock seeds in the soil will often germinate during renovation projects. Curly dock competition will usually diminish during the first year after renovation. Persistent curly dock is often an indication of damp, heavy soils. Improved drainage should lead to a more competitive turf.

    Similar Species

    Curly dock can be confused with other docks like broadleaf dock (Rumex obtusifolius), however, the leaves of broadleaf dock have heart-shaped lobed at the base and are much wider and less wavy than those of curly dock. Chicory, dandelion and buckhorn plantain also grow in a rosette like curly dock. Chicory and dandelion both have distinctly toothed leaves, not just wavy margins. The leaves of buckhorn plantain are much smoother than curly dock and have more parallel veination.