Curly dock

Curly dock (Rumex crispus L.)

Life Cycle:

Simple perennial. Seeds germinate from late spring through early fall producing seedlings. Perennial plants emerge in mid-spring from taproots, producing a robust rosette. Flowering occurs primarily in June.


Emerges from soil depths of 3-inches or less.


Mode(s) of Reproduction: Reproduces by seed. Plants resprout from taproots.

Production Range: Seed production can range from 100 to over 60,000 seeds per plant.

Dispersal Mechanisms: The membranous wings of the fruit are readily dispersed by wind and water.

Longevity: Moderately persistent the seed bank was reduced 50% after 3 years, and it took 17 years to reduce the curly dock seed bank 99%.

Dormancy: No information.


Moderately competitive.

Preferred Soil/Field Conditions: 

Thrives in nutrient rich, heavy damp soils, but can adapt to dry areas with poor soils. Curly dock does not tolerate acidic soils.



Predation/grazing: Not readily eaten by livestock, intensive grazing will likely result in an increase in curly dock populations.

Decay: No information.


Tillage: Uprooting, chopping, and then burying the taproots will control curly dock (that is why curly dock is not a problem in tilled cropping systems). Using a shovel to remove the crown about 2-inches below the soil surface is also effective.

Rotary Hoeing: Not effective.

Flaming: Not effective.

Mowing: Mowing will prevent seed production and reduce top growth.


Crop rotation: Mostly a problem in rotations that have little soil disturbance (no-till and perennial crops).

Planting date: Most likely will not affect curly dock infestations.


Application timing and effectiveness: Spring applications of labeled herbicides are effective in controlling seedling curly dock. However, once curly dock becomes established fall herbicide applications are more effective. Sequential herbicide applications may be necessary for control.

Additional Information

Considered a noxious weed of Michigan, Indiana, Iowa and Minnesota.