Figure 80.Narrow dock (Rumex crispus)
Yellow dock rumex, curled dock, sour dock.
This troublesome weed is now found throughout the United States, in cultivated as well as in waste ground, among rubbish heaps, and along roadsides.
Narrow dock has a deep spindle-shaped root from which arises an erect, angular, and furrowed stem, attaining a height of from 2 to 4 feet. The stem is branched near the top and is leafy, bearing numerous, long, dense clusters formed by drooping groups of inconspicuous, green flowers arranged in circles around the stem. These are followed by the fruits, which are in the form of small triangular nuts like buckwheat grains, surrounded by three very small veiny leaves. As the clusters ripen they become rusty brown. The lower leaves of the yellow dock are blunt, from 6 to 8 inches in length, with long stalks, while the upper leaves are narrower, only 3 to 6 inches in length, short stemmed or stemless. The root is large and fleshy, usually from 8 to 12 inches long, tapering or spindle shaped, with few or no rootless.
The root, collected late in the summer or autumn after the fruiting tops have turned brown. They are washed, either left entire or split lengthwise into halves or quarters, and carefully dried.