This section is from the book "The Standard Cyclopedia Of Horticulture Vol2", by L. H. Bailey. See also: Western Garden Book: More than 8,000 Plants - The Right Plants for Your Climate - Tips from Western Garden Experts.
A name applied to various species of Rumex (Polygondceaae). The commonest species - growing in fields and yards - are the curled or narrow-leaved dock (R. crispus, Linn.) and the bitter or broad-leaved dock (R. obtusifolius, Linn.). These are introduced from the Old World. Several species are native. See Rumex.
Various species of docks and sorrels have long been cultivated as pot-herbs. Some of them are very desirable additions to the garden because they yield a pleasant food very early in spring, and, once planted, they remain for years. The Spinage dock and the Large Belleville are amongst the best kinds. The former (Fig. 1336) is the better of the two, perhaps, and it has the advantage of being a week or ten days earlier. The crisp leaves (blade 1 foot long) appear early in April, when there is nothing green to be had in the open, and they can be cut continuously for a month or more. This dock is the herb patience (Rumex Patientia, Linn.). It has long been an inhabitant of gardens, and it has sparingly run wild in some parts of this country. It is a native of Europe.
Fig. 1336. Spinage dock.
The Belleville (Fig. 1337) is also a European and northern North American plant. It has also become spontaneous in some of the eastern portions of the country. It is really a sorrel (Rumex Acetosa, Linn.). It has thinner, lighter green and longer-stalked leaves than the Spinage dock, with spear-like lobes at the base. The leaves are very sour, and will probably not prove to be so generally agreeable as those of the Spinage dock; but they are later, and afford a succession. In some countries this sorrel yields oxalic acid sufficient for commercial purposes. The round-leaved or true French sorrel (Rumex scutatus, Linn.) would probably be preferable to most persons.
All these docks are hardy perennials, and are very acceptable plants to those who are fond of early "greens." Some, at least, of the cultivated docks can be procured of American seedsmen. They are readily grown from seeds, and give a good produce the second year and subsequently, and often yield good leaves the first season. l H B
Fig. 1337. Belleville dock.