Rumex crispus (curled dock)
- Taxonomic Tree
- Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature
- Distribution Table
- Hosts/Species Affected
- Host Plants and Other Plants Affected
- Biology and Ecology
- Natural enemies
- Notes on Natural Enemies
- Uses List
- Similarities to Other Species/Conditions
- Prevention and Control
- Distribution Maps
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PicturesTop of page
IdentityTop of page
Preferred Scientific Name
- Rumex crispus L. (1753)
Preferred Common Name
- curled dock
International Common Names
- English: curly dock
- Spanish: oseille crépu; patience crépu; rumex crépu
- French: oseille à feuilles de patience; parelle; patience crépue
- Portuguese: labaca-crespa
Local Common Names
- Brazil: azeda-crespa
- Germany: Krauser ampfer
- Italy: romice; romice crespa
- Japan: nagabagishigishi
- Netherlands: krulzuring
- Sweden: krusskräppa
- RUMCR (Rumex crispus)
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Phylum: Spermatophyta
- Subphylum: Angiospermae
- Class: Dicotyledonae
- Order: Polygonales
- Family: Polygonaceae
- Genus: Rumex
- Species: Rumex crispus
Notes on Taxonomy and NomenclatureTop of page
DescriptionTop of page
New rosette leaves and erect stems with alternate leaves develop from the crown. Stems are stiff, usually with a smooth, more or less reddish surface. On young plants, they are often single, on older plants mostly in groups from the branched or split crown. Leaves are bluish green with petioles shorter than the lamina. The upper leaves have no or very short petioles. Lamina are lanceolate, curly and wavy along their margins, 8 to 30 cm long and 2 to 7 cm wide. They have pointed tips and are narrowed at the base. The lamina of the lower leaves have more rounded bases than those of upper leaves on the stem. Inflorescences are racemes, rather dense, mostly between 10 and 50 cm long, representing branches from the axils of upper leaves of the stem and the top shoot. The leaves among the inflorescence branches are linear without petioles and, approaching the top, they become gradually smaller. Flowers, in dense clusters, are small with valves (inner sepals, sometimes known as tepals) that are 3-5 mm long and wide on pedicels which are 5-10 mm in length, green in the beginning and brown at maturity. Both bisexual and female flowers occur on the same plant. Seeds develop in achenes that are triangular in cross section, 2-3 mm long, 1.2-1.7 mm wide, with a shortly pointed base and a somewhat more long-pointed apex. The achenes, which have a shining reddish brown surface, are enclosed within three inner sepals (valves), which are heart-shaped with entire margins, first green, brown at maturity. The seeds are more or less polymorphic, mainly differing in size.
DistributionTop of page
Distribution TableTop of page
The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.Last updated: 25 Feb 2021
|Continent/Country/Region||Distribution||Last Reported||Origin||First Reported||Invasive||Reference||Notes|
|-Fujian||Present||Original citation: Wang, 1980|
|-Guangxi||Present||Original citation: Wang, 1980|
|-Hebei||Present||Original citation: Wang, 1980|
|-Inner Mongolia||Present||Original citation: Wang, 1980|
|-Jilin||Present||Original citation: Wang, 1980|
|-Liaoning||Present||Original citation: Wang, 1980|
|-Qinghai||Present||Original citation: Wang, 1980|
|-Shaanxi||Present||Original citation: Wang, 1980|
|-Xinjiang||Present||Original citation: Wang, 1980|
|Federal Republic of Yugoslavia||Present|
|Union of Soviet Socialist Republics||Present, Widespread|
|United States||Present, Widespread|
|-New South Wales||Present|
|Federated States of Micronesia||Present|
|-Rio Grande do Sul||Present|
HabitatTop of page
Hosts/Species AffectedTop of page
In annual crops, it may produce vigorous plants, particularly in fields where its perennating regenerative organs are not weakened by intensive soil tillage. These vigorous individuals exhibit a rich production of large seeds, and R. crispus can sometimes, more than most stationary perennials, be an important weed in annual crops sown or planted after soil tillage. It has been reported as a weed in many annual crops (Korsmo, 1930; Holm et al., 1977; Hanf, 1982).
Host Plants and Other Plants AffectedTop of page
|Allium cepa (onion)||Liliaceae||Other|
|Avena sativa (oats)||Poaceae||Other|
|Beta vulgaris (beetroot)||Chenopodiaceae||Other|
|Brassica napus var. napus (rape)||Brassicaceae||Other|
|Brassica rapa subsp. oleifera (turnip rape)||Brassicaceae||Other|
|Camellia sinensis (tea)||Theaceae||Other|
|Carthamus tinctorius (safflower)||Asteraceae||Other|
|Daucus carota (carrot)||Apiaceae||Other|
|Hordeum distichon (two-rowed barley)||Poaceae||Other|
|Hordeum vulgare (barley)||Poaceae||Other|
|Linum usitatissimum (flax)||Other|
|Medicago sativa (lucerne)||Fabaceae||Other|
|Oryza sativa (rice)||Poaceae||Other|
|Pisum sativum (pea)||Fabaceae||Other|
|Saccharum officinarum (sugarcane)||Poaceae||Other|
|Secale cereale (rye)||Poaceae||Other|
|Solanum tuberosum (potato)||Solanaceae||Other|
|Triticum aestivum (wheat)||Poaceae||Other|
|Vitis vinifera (grapevine)||Vitaceae||Other|
|Zea mays (maize)||Poaceae||Other|
Biology and EcologyTop of page
R. crispus survives winters and dry seasons vegetatively, and as seeds, which are often produced abundantly. Plants survive vegetatively by means of the taproot with its attached stem crown at the ground surface. If conditions are not too unfavourable, rosettes of leaves from the stem crowns are able to overwinter.
New shoots develop from buds in leaf axils on the crown and begin their growth in early spring. On plants with an intact taproot crown, new shoots develop from this upper stem part of the taproot. When the stem crown, situated at the ground surface, has become destroyed during winter or early spring, for example., by frost and, or fungi, new shoots can be initiated from the pericycle in the real root further down (Kvist and Håkansson, 1985). During the first period of growth, there is a net loss of food reserves in the regenerative system (taproot plus stem crown) until leaf surfaces are large enough to secure positive net photosynthesis. In Swedish experiments this happened on 10-15 May, when the plants had 5-6 well developed rosette leaves. After this, the aerial shoots grew very rapidly with stem elongation starting in larger plants on 15-20 May. The first flower buds develop soon after. Intensive development of racemes with green flowers occurred from early June to mid-July. After that period, an increasing number of racemes matured and became brown. All racemes were brown by mid-August. In fields surrounding the experimental site, new flushes of raceme development were observed at the same time as the first racemes matured, particularly on the largest plants. Thus, in late summer and early autumn, plants with both green and brown racemes can be observed. (Cavers and Harper, 1964; Holm et al., 1977.)
Under favourable growth conditions, when competition from other plants is weak and adequate nutrients and water are available, seedlings that have emerged in the spring can develop elongated shoots with flowers in the first growing season. In a competitive situation, most plants which establish from seed only develop leaf rosettes in their first growing season.
Young plants of R. crispus establishing from seed in grassland may be favoured by frequent mowing (Hongo, 1989). Percentage survival of individuals is greater under a frequent compared with an infrequent cutting regime. When frequently cut the leaves grow more horizontally (prostrate) and avoid being cut. Infrequent cutting encourages vertical growth so that individuals lose a greater proportion of their biomass at each cutting event. Even in lawns cut weekly, the plant can persist for long periods by means of the prostrate leaves, although the individuals remain rather small.
The high fecundity exhibited by R. crispus, together with the ability of many seeds to remain dormant, but viable, in the soil means that this species is able to develop a large persistent seed bank (Darlington and Steinbauer, 1951; Lewis, 1973). Plants from seeds of R. crispus can appear abundantly on disturbed ground, for example, on arable land ploughed after many decades of grassland, even where seed production has been prevented or minimal. There is considerable polymorphism among the seeds, both within and between parent plants. Different seeds therefore respond differently to environmental stimuli with regard to dormancy and germination characteristics (Cavers, 1963; Cavers and Harper, 1964; Williams, 1971). This causes variation in longevity and germination seasonality of the seeds, which favours the persistence of established plant populations under fluctuating environmental conditions and the colonization of new habitats. Seeds are dispersed by a number of agents; humans through agricultural activities, by wind and water, in the fur of animals, and via the digestive tracts of birds and cattle (Holm et al., 1977).
Soil cultivation stimulates the germination of R. crispus seeds in the soil. In soil stirred by simulated cultivation in spring, summer and autumn, Roberts and Neilson (1980) registered seedling emergence from early spring to early autumn, although predominantly in spring and early summer. Seedlings which emerge after autumn germination, survive winter to a considerable extent (Cavers and Harper, 1967). Germination is stimulated by light (daylight or near-red), and, or fluctuating temperature, and inhibited by far-red light (Le Deunff, 1971). Constant temperatures induce secondary dormancy (Roberts and Totterdell, 1981). A dense vegetation canopy, which absorbs much of the near-red light and levels out temperature fluctuations at the ground surface, therefore restricts germination.
Natural enemiesTop of page
|Natural enemy||Type||Life stages||Specificity||References||Biological control in||Biological control on|
Notes on Natural EnemiesTop of page
ImpactTop of page
Shoots of R. crispus in young stages have a good nutritive value for cattle, but quality deteriorates rapidly with age due to the development of hard, unpalatable stalks with a very low digestibility (Courtney, 1972; Barber, 1985). The plants are, however, from rather early stages of shoot development, largely refused by grazing cattle. This strengthens their competitive position within grazed swards. Dense stands of R. crispus therefore considerably reduces the palability of vegetation in meadows or leys for grazing (Courtney, 1972, 1985).
When R. crispus occurs in hay or silage, its hard and woody stems are refused by cattle and can reduce palatability. Holm et al. (1977) reported that R. crispus has been found toxic to poultry, and that cattle may suffer gastric disturbances and dermatitis when large amounts are eaten.
Uses ListTop of page
- Host of pest
- Poisonous to mammals
Similarities to Other Species/ConditionsTop of page
Species distinguished by the absence of swollen tubercles on the tepals include R. longifolius. This species, which occurs in Europe and North America, is morphologically most similar to R. crispus. Its leaves are lanceolate but, on average, broader and less curled, more wavy. However, the variation is considerable, and the occurrence of hybrids complicates these distinctions. Valves (inner sepals) of the flowers are heart-formed with entire margins and a rounded apex, whereas the apex of the valves in R. crispus is pointed.
In R. obtusifolius, common in Europe, N. America and many other regions, the lamina of the leaves are broader relative to their length than in R. crispus. In particular the lamina of the lower leaves have pronounced heart-shaped bases and rounded tips. The roots are often more branched near the ground surface than those of R. crispus and R. longifolius. Valves (inner sepals) of the flowers are triangular with more or less toothed margins and a more rounded apex than in R. crispus.
Other species occurring widely in Europe and sporadically elsewhere include R. comglomeratus, R. pulcher and R. sanguineus, while R. abyssinicus occupies a similar ecological niche in East Africa and Ethiopia and R. dentatus in India, Pakistan and the Middle East.
Prevention and ControlTop of page
Due to the variable regulations around (de)registration of pesticides, your national list of registered pesticides or relevant authority should be consulted to determine which products are legally allowed for use in your country when considering chemical control. Pesticides should always be used in a lawful manner, consistent with the product's label.Cultural Control
In cropping systems with repeated growing of competitive annual crops, and with ploughing and harrowing regularly performed between crops, there is normally no need for additional measures to control R. crispus. However, in less competitive crops (row crops such as sugar beets and most vegetables), control measures, mechanical or physical may be required, even in fields where cumulative seed rain is moderate. In perennial two- to three-year leys in crop rotations, cutting usually prevents the growth of tall shoots thereby reducing seed production so that additional active control is seldom needed. When breaking the ley for subsequent growing of annual crops, thorough tillage should be carried out to prevent vegetative survival. In permanent pastures and particularly in meadows for grazing, active control of R. crispus and related species is often required. Cutting or pulling up the more vigorous plants has been practiced. Effective control by herbicides is now possible.
R. crispus can be controlled chemically by a number of herbicides, although the plants are often only moderately susceptible. Best control is obtained by foliage application in spring or autumn on young rosette leaves. In more advanced stages, plants are on the whole very resistant or tolerant to herbicides. Types of herbicides used, alone or in combinations, are phenoxy acids, such as 2,4-D, MCPA, dichlorprop and mecoprop, fluroxipyr, thifensulfuron-methyl and tribenuron-methyl (Ericsson, 1997). Mamarot and Rodriguez (1997) list a further range of recommendations, including amidosulfuron and metsulfuron in cereals.
The possibilities for classical biological control of R. crispus and other weedy Rumex spp. has been investigated in relation to the possibility of importing agents from Europe in the USA (Spencer, 1981; Campobasso and Murano, 1988) and Australia (Scott, 1990). No introductions are reported for the USA but two sessiid root borers, Bambecia chrysisiformis and Chamaesphecia doryliformis were imported into Australia after host specificity studies (Scott and Sagliocco, 1991a, b) and a progamme of releases initiated (Fisher, 1992). No record of the outcome of this work has been found. Similarly, the use of the fungi Uromyces rumicis investigated by Frank (1973) and Ramularia rubella investigated by Huber-Meinicke et al. (1989), which were found to be specific to Rumex spp., has been proposed (see also Scott, 1990) but does not seem to have been followed up.
ReferencesTop of page
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Courtney A, 1985. Impact and control of docks in grassland. Occasional Symposium of the British Grassland Society, 18. Croydon, UK: British Crop Protection Council, 120-127.
Darlington H; Steinbauer G, 1961. The eighty- year period for Dr. Bealns seed viability experiment. American Journal of Botany, 38:379-381.
Deunff Y Le, 1971. Mise en évidence du phytochrome chez les semances de Rumex crispus L. Annales de Physiologie Végétale, 9:201-208.
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Ericsson O, 1997. Control by chemical and biological means. Borss, Sweden: LTs förlag.
Evans AW; Yates CW, 1983. Survey of the distribution and occurrence of weeds in herbage seed crops in England and Wales for 1973 compared with 1978. Journal of the National Institute of Agricultural Botany, 16(2):289-309.
Frank PA, 1973. A biological control agent for Rumex crispus. Proceedings of the 2nd International Symposium on Biological Control of Weeds, Rome, 1971. Commonwealth Agricultural Bureaux. Slough UK, 121-126.
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Mamarot J; Rodriguez A, 1997. Sensibilité des Mauvaises Herbes aux Herbicides. 4th edition. Paris, France: Association de Coordination Technique Agricole.
Maun M; Cavers P, 1969. Influence of photoperiod on flowering of Rumex crispus. Agronomy Journal, 61:823.
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Distribution MapsTop of page
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