Taxonomy of Yellow Dock:
Identification of Yellow Dock Plants:
Where Yellow Dock Grows:
Yellow Dock As Home Remedy Against Stinging Nettles:
Has your skin ever brushed up against stinging nettles (Urtica dioica) while you worked in the garden? If so, you know about the burning sensation caused by their spines, followed by an itchy rash. Fortunately, Rumex crispus often grows near stinging nettle. Just roll a leaf of yellow dock between your thumb and forefinger to crush it, then doctor your wound with the juicy pulp left over and the burning will subside.
Yellow dock has, in fact, been used medicinally (for a number of ailments) for ages; but it's mainly the plant's root, rather than its leaves, that has been used in folk medicine. In fact, the common name, "yellow dock" refers to the yellowish color often found inside the root, when it is sliced open.
The yellowish root notwithstanding, the signature color of Rumex crispus, in my eyes, is brown. That's the color of the dried flower-head in fall; once you're able to use this feature to identify it as yellow dock, you'll never forget this plant. I love its texture: if you grab the coarse brown spike and slide your hand along it, you'll come away with a handful of small, crispy flakes (the seeds and dried sepals). Makes me think of coffee grounds. Which is ironic, since folks have roasted this plant's seeds for use as a coffee substitute.