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Common Name: Willow Dock
Rumex salicifolius is a perennial plant that can grow up to 0.60 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 N. America - Alaska to California.
Coastal sand dunes to river banks, lake shores, mountain meadows and rocky slopes[
We have very little information on this species and do not know if it will be hardy in Britain, though judging by its native range it should succeed outdoors in most parts of this country. Plants should also be tolerant of maritime exposure. The following notes are based on the general needs of the genus.
Succeeds in most soils but prefers a deep fertile moderately heavy soil that is humus-rich, moisture-retentive but well-drained and a position in full-sun or part shade[
Young leaves - cooked[
]. Used as greens[
Stems - cooked[
]. They can be peeled, then boiled with sugar and used like rhubarb[
]. The stems can be baked, peeled and the inner pulp eaten hot or cold[
Seed - cooked[
]. It can be ground into a powder and cooked with water until it has the consistency of a thick gravy[
The roots are astringent, blood purifier, laxative, poultice and salve[
]. A decoction has been used in the treatment of severe constipation[
]. An infusion has been used in the treatment of stomach aches[
]. The mashed roots have been used as a salve on sore limbs and on chicken pox rash[
]. The dried, powdered root has been used as a dusting powder on sores and cuts[
Although no specific mention has been made for this species, dark green to brown and dark grey dyes can be obtained from the roots of many species in this genus, They do not need a mordant[
Seed - sow spring in a cold frame. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in the summer.
Division in spring.