The green links below add additional plants to the comparison table. Blue links lead to other Web sites.
enable glossary links

curled dock, curly dock, patience crépue, reguette, rumex crépu, sour dock, yellow dock


Habit Plants perennial, occasionally biennial, glabrous or very indistinctly papillose normally only on veins of leaf blades abaxially, with fusiform, vertical rootstock. Trees, shrubs, vines, or herbs, perennial or annual, homophyllous (heretophyllous in some species of Polygonum); root fibrous or a solid taproot, rarely tuberous.

erect, branched distal to middle, 40–100(–150) cm.

usually prostrate to erect, sometimes scandent, not scapose, rarely with recurved spines (some species of Persicaria), glabrous or pubescent, sometimes glandular;

nodes usually swollen;

branches free (adnate to stems distal to nodes and appearing to arise internodally in Polygonella);

tendrils absent (except in Antigonon and Brunnichia).


ocrea deciduous, rarely partially persistent at maturity;

blade lanceolate to narrowly lanceolate or lanceolate-linear, normally 15–30(–35) × 2–6 cm, base cuneate, truncate, or weakly cordate, margins entire to subentire, strongly crisped and undulate, apex acute.

deciduous (persistent in Coccoloba and sometimes more than 1 year in Antigonon and Polygonella), basal or basal and cauline, rarely cauline only, mostly alternate;

ocrea present, persistent or deciduous, cylindric to funnelform, chartaceous, membranous, coriaceous, or, rarely, foliaceous or partly so;

petiole present or absent, rarely articulate basally (Fagopyrum, Fallopia, Polygonella, Polygonum), rarely with extrafloral nectaries (Fallopia, Muehlenbeckia);

blade simple with entire margins, rarely undulate or lobed.


terminal, occupying distal 1/2 of stem, dense or interrupted at base, narrowly to broadly paniculate, branches usually straight or arcuate.

terminal or terminal and axillary, spikelike, racemelike, paniclelike, cymelike, or, rarely, capitate, comprising simple or branched clusters of compound inflorescences;

bracts absent;

peduncle spreading to erect, sometimes absent;

clusters of flowers subtended by connate bracteoles forming persistent membranous tube (ocreola), awnless.


articulated in proximal 1/3, filiform, (3–)4–8 mm, articulation distinctly swollen.


10–25 in whorls;

inner tepals orbiculate-ovate or ovate-deltoid, 3.5–6 × 3–5 mm, base truncate or subcordate, margins entire or subentire to very weakly erose, flat, apex obtuse or subacute;

tubercles normally 3, rarely 1 or 2, unequal, at least 1 distinctly larger, more than (1–)1.5 mm wide.

usually bisexual, sometimes bisexual and unisexual on same plant, rarely unisexual only, 1–20+ per ocreate fascicle, often with stipelike base distal to articulation;

perianth often accrescent in fruit, often greenish, white, pink, yellow, red, or purple, usually unwinged and unkeeled (winged or, sometimes, keeled in Fallopia, rarely keeled in Polygonum), campanulate or urceolate, sometimes membranous, indurate, or fleshy in fruit, rarely developing raised tubercles proximally (Rumex), glabrous or pubescent, sometimes glandular or glandular-punctate;

tepals 2–6, usually in 2 whorls, distinct or connate proximally and forming tube, petaloid or sepaloid, monomorphic or dimorphic;

nectary a disk at base of ovary or glands associated with bases of filaments;

stamens usually (1–)6–9, staminodes rarely present;

filaments distinct, or connate basally and sometimes forming staminal tube, free or adnate to perianth tube;

pistils (2–)3(–4)-carpellate;

ovary 1-locular (sometimes with vestigial partitions proximally);

ovule 1, orthotropous or, rarely, anatropous, placentation basal or free-central;

styles 1–3, erect to spreading or recurved, distinct or connate proximally;

stigmas peltate, capitate, fimbriate, or penicillate.


usually reddish brown, 2–3 × 1.5–2 mm.

yellowish, brown, red, or black, homocarpic (sometimes heterocarpic in Polygonum), winged or unwinged, usually 2–3-gonous, sometimes discoid, biconvex, or spheroidal, rarely 4-gonous.


embryo usually straight or curved, rarely folded.


= 60.

Rumex crispus

Polygonaceae subfam. polygonoideae

Phenology Flowering late spring–early fall.
Habitat Very broad range of ruderal, segetal, and seminatural habitats, disturbed soil, waste places, cultivated fields, roadsides, meadows, shores of water bodies, edges of woods
Elevation 0-2500 m (0-8200 ft)
from FNA
AK; AL; AR; AZ; CA; CO; CT; DC; DE; FL; GA; IA; ID; IL; IN; KS; KY; LA; MA; MD; ME; MI; MN; MO; MS; MT; NC; ND; NE; NH; NJ; NM; NV; NY; OH; OK; OR; PA; RI; SC; SD; TN; TX; UT; VA; VT; WA; WI; WV; WY; AB; BC; MB; NB; NF; NS; NT; ON; PE; QC; SK; YT; SPM; Eurasia [Introduced in North America; introduced almost worldwide]
[WildflowerSearch map]
[BONAP county map]
Mainly temperate regions of North America

Rumex crispus (belonging to subsect. Crispi Rechinger f.; see K. H. Rechinger 1937) is the most widespread and ecologically successful species of the genus, occuring almost worldwide as a completely naturalized and sometimes invasive alien. It has not been reported from Greenland, but it probably occurs there.

Rumex crispus hybridizes with many other species of subg. Rumex. Hybrids with R. obtusifolius (Rumex ×pratensis Mertens & Koch) are the most common in the genus, at least in Europe, and have been reported for several localities in North America. Rumex crispus × R. patientia (Rumex ×confusus Simonkai) was reported from New York. According to R. S. Mitchell (1986, p. 47), “this hybrid is now spreading along highway shoulders, and it has replaced R. crispus in some local areas.” However, that information should be confirmed by more detailed studies since spontaneous hybrids between species of sect. Rumex usually are much less fertile and ecologically successful than the parental species. Hybrids of Rumex occuring in North America need careful revision.

Numerous infraspecific taxa and even segregate species have been described in the Rumex crispus aggregate. Many seem to represent minor variation of little or no taxonomic significance, but some are geographically delimited entities that may deserve recognition as subspecies or varieties. The typical variety has inner tepals with three well-developed tubercles; the less common var. unicallosus Petermann, with one tubercle, occurs sporadically in North America.

Some eastern Asian plants differ from typical Rumex crispus is having somewhat smaller inner tepals, longer pedicels, lax inflorescences with remote whorls, and narrower leaves that are almost flat or indistinctly undulate at the margins. These plants, originally described as R. fauriei Rechinger f., are now treated as R. crispus subsp. fauriei (Rechinger f.) Mosyakin & W. L. Wagner; the subspecies was recently reported from Hawaii (S. L. Mosyakin and W. L. Wagner 1998) and may be expected as introduced in western North America.

(Discussion copyrighted by Flora of North America; reprinted with permission.)

Genera 28, species ca. 850 (16 genera, 160 species in the flora).

Morphological (K. Haraldson 1978; L.-P. Ronse Decraene and J. R. Akeroyd 1988; Ronse Decraene et al. 2000; Hong S. P. et al. 1998) and molecular (A. S. Lamb Frye and K. A. Kron 2003) data provide support for separation of Persicaria from Polygonum. Further studies are needed to elucidate the relationships of allied genera, particularly Aconogonon, Bistorta, and Koenigia with Persicaria, and Fallopia and Polygonella with Polygonum.

(Discussion copyrighted by Flora of North America; reprinted with permission.)

1. Tendrils present; plants vines
→ 2
1. Tendrils absent; plants trees, shrubs, or herbs, rarely vinelike shrubs
→ 3
2. Perianths pink to purple or, rarely, white or yellow, membranous; pedicels not 3-winged
2. Perianths green to greenish yellow, indurate; pedicels 3-winged, 1 wing more prominent and becoming greatly expanded in fruit
3. Plants trees or shrubs; tubes of pistillate flowers becoming fleshy in fruit
3. Plants herbs, subshrubs, or, rarely, vinelike shrubs; tubes of pistillate flowers rarely becoming fleshy in fruit
→ 4
4. Tepals 6
→ 5
4. Tepals 3, 4, or 5
→ 7
5. Flowers unisexual; outer 3 tepals of pistillate flowers each with apex ending in stout spine
5. Flowers bisexual or, rarely, unisexual; outer 3 tepals each without apex ending in stout spine
→ 6
6. Achenes winged; inner tepals of fruiting perianths nonaccrescent; stamens (6-)9
6. Achenes unwinged; inner tepals of fruiting perianths usually accrescent; stamens 6
7. Herbs annual; tepals 3 [4]; stamens (1-)3[-5]
7. Herbs perennial or annual, or shrubs; tepals 4-5; stamens 3-8
→ 8
8. Tepals 4; achenes lenticular, winged; leaves mostly basal
8. Tepals 4 or 5; achenes 3-gonous, discoid, biconvex, spheroidal, or 4-gonous, unwinged or essentially so; leaves cauline or basal and cauline, rarely mostly basal
→ 9
9. Branches adnate to stems, appearing to arise internodally
9. Branches not adnate to stems, not appearing to arise internodally
→ 10
10. Plants shrubs, vinelike; flowers unisexual, tubes of pistillate flowers becoming fleshy in fruit
10. Plants herbs or, if shrubs, not vinelike; flowers bisexual or, rarely, unisexual, if unisexual then tubes of pistillate flowers not becoming fleshy
→ 11
11. Outer tepals winged or keeled
→ 12
11. Outer tepals unwinged and unkeeled
→ 13
12. Outer tepals winged (keeled in F. ciliondis and, usually, F. convolvulus); ocreae chartaceous, tan to brownish, glabrous or scabrous to variously pubescent, never 2-lobed distally
12. Outer tepals keeled; ocreae often hyaline, silvery, glabrous, 2-lobed distally
13. Leaves mostly basal, some cauline; inflorescences terminal, spikelike; stems simple
13. Leaves cauline; inflorescences terminal and axillary or axillary; stems usually branched, rarely simple
→ 14
14. Achenes strongly exserted; perianths nonaccrescent; tepals distinct
14. Achenes included or exserted; perianths accrescent or nonaccrescent; tepals connate to 2/3 their lengths. [15. Shifted to left margin.—Ed.]
→ 15
15. Ocreae often hyaline, silvery, glabrous, 2-lobed distally, often disintegrating into fibers or completely
15. Ocreae chartaceous, usually tan, brown, or reddish, rarely silvery, glabrous or scabrous to variously pubescent, never 2-lobed distally, often tearing with age
→ 16
16. Inflorescences spikelike, paniclelike, or capitate; tepals 4 or 15, connate 1/ 2/ 3 their length (less than 5 their length in P. wallichii); stamens 5-8
16. Inflorescences racemelike or paniclelike; tepals 5, connate ca. 1/ 4 their length; stamens 8
Source FNA vol. 5, p. 522. FNA vol. 5, p. 479. Author: Craig C. Freeman.
Parent taxa Polygonaceae > subfam. Polygonoideae > Rumex > subg. Rumex > sect. Rumex Polygonaceae
Sibling taxa
R. acetosa, R. acetosella, R. alpinus, R. altissimus, R. arcticus, R. beringensis, R. britannica, R. brownii, R. bucephalophorus, R. californicus, R. chrysocarpus, R. confertus, R. conglomeratus, R. crassus, R. cristatus, R. cuneifolius, R. densiflorus, R. dentatus, R. ellipticus, R. fascicularis, R. floridanus, R. fueginus, R. graminifolius, R. hastatulus, R. hesperius, R. hymenosepalus, R. kerneri, R. krausei, R. lacustris, R. lapponicus, R. longifolius, R. maritimus, R. mexicanus, R. nematopodus, R. obovatus, R. obtusifolius, R. occidentalis, R. orthoneurus, R. pallidus, R. palustris, R. paraguayensis, R. patientia, R. paucifolius, R. persicarioides, R. praecox, R. pseudonatronatus, R. pulcher, R. pycnanthus, R. salicifolius, R. sanguineus, R. sibiricus, R. spiralis, R. stenophyllus, R. subarcticus, R. thyrsiflorus, R. tomentellus, R. transitorius, R. triangulivalvis, R. utahensis, R. venosus, R. verticillatus, R. violascens
Subordinate taxa
Aconogonon, Antigonon, Bistorta, Brunnichia, Coccoloba, Emex, Fagopyrum, Fallopia, Koenigia, Muehlenbeckia, Oxyria, Persicaria, Polygonella, Polygonum, Rheum, Rumex
Synonyms Lapathum crispum
Name authority Linnaeus: Sp. Pl. 1: 335. (1753) Eaton: Bot. Dict. ed. 4, 30. (1836)
Web links