This section is from the book "A Manual Of Weeds", by Ada E. Georgia. Also available from Amazon: A Manual Of Weeds.
Introduced. Perennial. Propagates by seeds. Time of bloom: June to September.
Fig. 52. - Patience Dock (Rumex Patientia). X 1/12.
Seed-time: July to October.
Range: Throughout the United States and southern British America.
Habitat: Meadows, pastures, farmyards, and waste places.
The root of this plant is spindle-shaped, thick, yellow, often two or three feet long. Stem two to four feet tall, erect, slender, smooth, finely grooved, simple or with a few branches near the top.
Basal leaves oblong lance-shaped, six inches to more than a foot in length, with margins usually wavy-curled; petioles long and stout; upper leaves much smaller, with shorter petioles. Flowers in large, simple or compound racemes, often more than a foot in length, growing in crowded whorls on slender, jointed pedicels; they are small and greenish, without petals, but having six stamens; styles three, with stigmas tufted; calyx of six sepals in double rows of three, the inner ones heart-shaped, beautifully veined, uniting to form valves that enclose the seed, giving it triple wings, which assists its distribution by wind; all three valves have a rather thick, rounded, corky tubercle on the back. Achenes three-sided, plump, with rounded tips, smooth, shining, about one-twelfth of an inch long. Birds are very fond of them and forage on the brown, weather-beaten panicles all winter. They are a very common impurity of clover and alfalfa seeds; and, though the task of removing them is difficult, it is not so strenuous as grubbing Docks. (Fig. 53.)
Prevent seed production. In order to destroy the perennial roots, deep and frequent cutting, with hoe or spud, is necessary so that they will be starved of the food assimilated by the leaves. Or when the ground is very soft the roots may be removed entire, by prying with a spade set into the ground vertically by the side of the root and pulling hard at the same time with the other hand. The roots of all three of the immigrant Docks here described are used in medicine; and the United States annually imports more than a hundred thousand pounds to supply the drug trade, at a cost of about a half-million dollars. If properly cleaned, split lengthwise, and dried, they might be made to pay for the labor of their extraction from the soil.
Fig. 53. - Yellow or Curled Dock (Rumex crispus). X 1/8.