Rumex crispus - Curly Dock

Posted by Clueless Bushcraft on

Early in the spring, I found some broad leaf dock and wrote about it. Right about now, the dock has some green seeds on them and some brown seeds on them. It’s a good time to collect these seeds and use them for food.

First, let me say that this picture is of a related dock, called curly dock or Rumex crispus. All docks are in the buckwheat family, Polygonaceae, and curly dock is native to Europe and western Asia. The leaves are narrow and wavy along the edges, which is why it is called curly dock. Docks are biennial, producing a rosette the first year and a flower stalk the second year. The seeds are clustered along the stalks and are shiny and brown.

When curly dock is young, you can eat the leaves, like broad leaf dock. The leaves are high in oxalic crystals so if you are prone to kidney stones, you might want to avoid eating dock leaves. You can boil them in a couple changes of water to get the crystals out. Dock leaves are high in potassium, iron and vitamins A and C.

In the summer, you should make use of dock seeds. It’s free food for the taking. Remove them by running your hand up the stalk. Dry them completely, then you can grind them into powder. The “flour” will taste like buckwheat flour, as buckwheat is related to dock. Dock flour may be a bit bitter, so don’t use too much of it until you decide you like the taste. Or mix it with other flours.

You can also roast the seeds, which will change the flavor. Some people prefer flour from roasted dock seeds.

One good way to use the flour is to make crackers. I have made raw crackers by mixing 2-3 cups of buckwheat, dock and wheat flour along with whatever else comes to mind: pureed carrots, celery, and tomatoes usually, along with a half onion and some garlic cloves, and plenty of salt and black pepper. I spread the mix on parchment paper very thin, and put it in the oven at around 125 degrees for a couple hours, then turn off the oven and let cool, then flip the entire sheet and repeat on the other side. It takes a couple times in the oven before it’s dry. Monitor it so it doesn’t dry out too much. Then eat as a nutritious snack. I like mine with cheese on top.

You can use dock roots for medicinal purposes. Native American tribes often mashed the root to apply to sores, swollen joints and injuries, and for skin problems. The Cheyenne used the dried pulverized root to treat lung hemorrhage. The Dakota would use the crushed green leaves as a poultice to draw out infections. The roots are high in iron, so many remedies call for mashed cooked root to be eaten to treat anemia, jaundice and as a blood purifier. The Iroquois would use a decoction of the roots to induce abortion and pregnancy.