Dock, or Rumex, L. a genus of perennial plants, comprising 39 species, of which eleven are natives ; and of these the following are the principal:
1. The crispus, or Curled Dock, which is found in meadows, pastures, on road-sides, and in almost every cultivated soil : it flowers in the month of June or July; its erect stalk attains the height of three feet. In the county of Norfolk this plant vegetates most luxuriantly, and is the pest of clover fields, from which it is very diffi-cult to be extirpated. It is refused by horses, cows, and goats. - Ac-cording to Dr. Withering, the fresh roots of the curled dock, when bruised and made into an ointment, cure the itch; and its seeds have been given with success in cases of dysentery. - In Germany, a decoction of the root is employed by country people for the cure of the scab, and other eruptions in •attle. The whole plant has been advantageously used on the Continent, for tanning or currying lea ther. - In early spring, the leaves may be boiled like spinach ; and the peasantry abroad frequently smoke them instead of common tobacco. - Bechstein informs us, that the dried seeds afford flour and bread.
2. The aculus, or Sharp Dock, which is common in woods, hedges, on the sides of rivers, and roads, and is sometimes found in fields and meadows. Its stalk grows frequently six feet high ; and the flowers appear in June or July. This plant is refused by cows and horses. The roots, however, are employed by dyers, and with the addition of alum and cream of tartar, give a variety of shades, from a straw-colour to a fine olive : they impart a beautiful deep green to cloths that have been previously dyed blue. - The whole plant has been recommended to tanners as an useful substitute for oak-bark.
3. The aquaticus, or Water Dock, growing in peat-marshes, wet ditches, pools, at the sides of rivers, and in shallow water. It flowers in July or August, and is succeeded by large seeds. - This pliant affords a medicine of considerable efficacy, when applied externally as a wash for spongy, putrid gums : its roots, when pulverized, have been found excellentforclean-ing the teeth. ' These roots are of a bitter, astringent taste, and have often been employed for the cure of scorbutic and cutaneous disorders, whether administered internally, or applied externally in ointments, cataplasms, lotions, or fomentations. Decoctions of the leaves are, likewise, an efficacious laxative, and have been taken with advantage in rheumatic pains, and chronical diseases, occasioned by costiveness, or by visceral obstruc-tions.—The dose usually given, is a deco6tion of half an ounce of the fresh roots, or from one to two drams of them, in a dry state.
4. The obtusifolius, or Broad-* leaved Dock, which grows among rubbish, in farm-yards, courts, parks, and at the sides of ditches : it flowers in the month of July or August. - Fallow-deer are extremely fond of this species, as well as of the sharp dock, and ea them both with such avidity down to the root, that neither of them is found thriving in a park.
5. The acetosus, or Sorrel-dock : See Common Sorrel.
6. The acetosella : See Sheep's Sorrel.
All these species of the dock are but seldom cultivated; as they so easily multiply by their numerous seeds, that, where they are once admitted, they become very troublesome weeds, and their extirpation calls forth every exertion of the industrious farmer.