Scientific Name: Rumex obtusifolius

Common Name: bitter dock

Synonyms: Acetosa oblongifolia

Habit: This taprooted perennial sprouts in the early spring and flowers through the summer.

Leaves: The lower leaves are usually petioled and have a heart-shaped base. The 12-inch leaves are usually lance shaped or oblong. The stem leaves have a membranous sheath (ocrea) and progressively get smaller as they near the top of the plant. With age, the leaves become a reddish purple.

Identifying Characteristics: The plant's large broad leaves that form a basal rosette can identify this plant, while its wide, flat leaves differentiate it from the curly dock.

Flower Seed Head: Flowers occur in clusters on the upper portions of elongated stems. The flowers are composed of greenish sepals that turn reddish brown as they mature.

Seed Fruit: The seeds develop in an achene, which is encased in a papery, 3-winged calyx. The 2mm long achenes are triangular, and are a glossy brown in color.

Where Found: This plant prefers nutrient-rich damp soils. It can be found along roadsides, meadows, orchards, and drainage ditches.

  • Life cycle: perennial

  • Milky sap: Not Present

  • Plant type: Herb

  • Thorns: Not Present

  • Plant family: Polygonaceae

  • Leaf arrangement: rosette; alternate

  • Leaf shape: oval; round; heart

  • Ochrea: Present

  • Leaf margin: entire

  • Stem hairs: no hairs

  • Flower color: green; red

  • Growth habit: upright and nonwoody

  • Stem: round or oval

  • Leaf structure: simple

  • Leaf hairs: no hairs

  • Flower diameter: pencil

  • Flower symmetry: radial symetery

  • Root structure: fibrous; taproot

  • Leaf stalk: shorter than leaf