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Sour Dock (Rumex crispus)

Description: Sour dock, also known as curly dock, yellow dock, and narrow-leafed dock, is a perennial, reproducing by seeds only. The fleshy taproot is somewhat branched and yellowish-orange in color. The stems are smooth with swollen nodes, erect, and 2-4 feet tall. One or several stems may arise from one rhizome. The leaves are dark green, alternate, smooth, simple, crimped along the edges, petioled, and with a sheathing at the base. The large lanceolate leaves may reach 12 inches in length and are mostly basal. The small flowers occur in whorled clusters on the tip of the stem. The flowers are without petals, green in color and turn a dark reddish-brown at maturity. The winged pods usually contain 3 shiny, reddish-brown seeds at maturity. The seed remains viable in the soil for many years. The plant flowers in May and in June and seeds in June and July.

Distribution: Sour dock is a common weed in Iowa and Johnson County. It grows on roadsides, waste areas, meadows, pastures, and it may be found in lawns. Plants are scattered completely across the state with heavy infestation in low, moist sites.

What’s The Problem?: Sour dock forms dense stands which compete with row crops and native plants for nutrients and sunlight. Reduced crop yields can occur in infested areas. Wildlife habitat and native plant diversity can also be negatively affected by sour dock. Another problem is that disturbed seed may sprout after being in the soil for many years.

Management Methods: Similar to smooth dock, sour dock can be controlled by several methods. Cultural (tillage, cultivation), mechanical (hand removal, mowing), and chemical methods are commonly used methods for control of red sorrel. If chemical Management Methods are chosen, always read and follow label directions closely.



Sour Dock 1     Sour Dock 2 

Sour Dock 3

Photo couresy of Weeds of Nebraska and the Great Plains published by Nebraska Department of Agriculture