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Common Name: Round-Leaved Dock
Rumex obtusifolius is a perennial plant that can grow up to 1.00 metres tall.
It is harvested from the wild for local use as a food, medicine and source of materials.
Plants can contain quite high levels of oxalic acid, which is what gives the leaves of many members of this genus an acid-lemon flavour. Perfectly alright in small quantities, the leaves should not be eaten in large amounts since the oxalic acid can lock-up other nutrients in the food, especially calcium, thus causing mineral deficiencies. The oxalic acid content will be reduced if the plant is cooked. People with a tendency to rheumatism, arthritis, gout, kidney stones or hyperacidity should take especial caution if including this plant in their diet since it can aggravate their condition[
Western Europe, including Britain, from Scandanavia south and east to Spain, Germany and Hungary.
Waste ground, hedgerows and field margins[
]. A common weed of cultivated land on acid or calcareous soils[
Requires a good soil[
Plants are occasionally cultivated for their edible leaves[
A very important food plant for the caterpillars of many species of butterfly[
This species is an alternative host of the turnip fly[
Young leaves - cooked[
]. A bitter taste, especially if the older leaves are used[
]. The leaves are usually cooked in at least one change of water in order to reduce the bitterness[
]. Leaves can also be dried for later use[
]. The leaves have a much milder flavour when they are first produced in early spring[
Young stems - cooked[
Seed - raw or cooked[
]. The seed can also be ground into a powder and used to make a gruel or added to cereal flours when making bread etc[
]. It is rather small and fiddly to harvest.
The leaves are often applied externally as a rustic remedy in the treatment of blisters, burns and scalds[
The root contains tannin and is astringent and blood purifier[
]. A tea made from the roots has been used in the treatment of jaundice, whooping cough, boils and bleeding[
]. An infusion of the root has been used as a wash, especially for children, to treat skin eruptions[
]. One report says that the root has been used as a contraceptive to stop menstruation[
]. The root is harvested in early spring and dried for later use[
Yellow, dark green to brown and dark grey dyes can be obtained from the roots of this plant[
]. They do not need a mordant[
Seed - sow spring in situ.
Division in spring.