Latin: Rumex spp.

Other names: Curled dock, broadleaf dock, sorrel

Family: Polygonaceae

Docks are common weeds found in the United Kingdom that belong to the buckwheat family (Polygonaceae). There are several species of docks, including curled dock (Rumex crispus) and broadleaf dock (Rumex obtusifolius). Docks can be identified by their large, broad leaves and clusters of small green or reddish flowers.

Docks are perennial plants that typically grow upright, reaching heights of up to 1 meter or more. They are commonly found in agricultural fields, gardens, waste areas, and disturbed soils.

Identifying Docks

Docks possess several distinct features that help distinguish them from other similar-looking plants. The leaves of docks are large, broad, and usually have wavy or curled edges. They often have long, reddish petioles. The stems are erect and branched, with a reddish or green color.

The flowers of docks are small and inconspicuous, arranged in dense clusters known as inflorescences. They can be green or reddish in color. The flowers bloom from spring to summer, depending on the species and environmental conditions.

The Challenges of Docks

One plant can produce 60,000 seeds that are viable for up to 80 years.
Open swards as a result of poaching, over-grazing or winter kill provide space for infestations to start. Docks thrive in fertile pasture but only provide 65% of the feed value of grass from the same area.
Docks are best controlled at the rosette stage when leaves are healthy and not under stress.

Docks can be problematic weeds in agricultural fields, gardens, and grasslands. Their deep taproots and extensive root systems make them difficult to control. Docks can compete with crops, grasses, and desired plants for resources such as nutrients, water, and sunlight. They can also reduce the quality and yield of forage crops.

One of the challenges with docks is their ability to produce abundant seeds that can remain viable in the soil for several years. These seeds can germinate and establish new infestations, leading to ongoing weed management efforts.

Managing Docks

docks in first cut silage

Managing docks involves a Integrated Pest Management, a combination of cultural, mechanical, and chemical methods. In agricultural settings, crop rotation, timely cultivation, and the use of pre-emergence or post-emergence herbicides can help control docks. Proper timing of herbicide applications is crucial for effective control.

Regular mowing and maintaining a healthy grass can also help suppress dock growth in lawns and grasslands.

Nufarm agronomy solution:

THRUST 2.5L/ha + fluroxypyr 1.0L/ha

Contact our team

West UK BDU / Grassland Manager


Ireland BDU