Wild Edibles: Curly Dock Aka Yellow Dock

Curly dock is a wild edible that can be found in many places. Yards, gardens, forest, and even desert areas;  docks have different varieties according to where it is found. Curly dock in the south U.S can be found in fields and lawns that house weeds with out being treated with chemicals to kill them. Its seen along side highways as well.
When foraging, you want to be sure you collect it from an area that is not treated with chemicals, or polluted by vehicles on the highways. If you do forage edibles near highways, be sure to scrub and thoroughly clean your foraged greens.
Rumex crispus, the curly dock, curled dock or yellow dock, is a perennial flowering plant in the family Polygonaceae, native to Europe and Western Asia. Wikipedia
Scientific name: Rumex crispus
Rank: Species

Although this edible plant can be consumed by humans, the leaves of curly dock are poisonous to cattle and sheep. the seeds and vegetation of curly dock are poison to poultry and can cause skin and gastric problems in cattle and horses. Curly dock is also a host to many crop diseases.

Curly dock is best to harvest for consumption when it first comes in, and the new leaves are still unfurled (curls.)  Using older leaves and stems often turn slimy when cooked and you have to boil and boil, draining the old water and adding new, clean water.




Curly dock, aka yellow dock leaves can be eaten raw when young, or cooked when older. The leaves are very tart, and because of their high oxalic acid content.  it’s recommended to only eat them in moderation, and to change the water several times during cooking.

The leaves are long and wavy at the edges. The leaf is a simple leaf.

If you find leaves with old rusty spots, move on; they are not worth the effort unless you are in a survival situation, and that is all that’s available.




The seeds and leaves can be added to salads, stir-fry or soup.  Mature curly dock seeds can be boiled, or eaten raw, or even roasted to make a coffee substitute

The seeds will emerge later on as a long stem will grow up through the center of the plant to about three feet tall.  In that case, the plant is old, but you can harvest the seeds if you choose. Many people use them roasted and ground for a coffee supplement. Many people say harvesting seeds is a grueling job and the effort is not worth the time, for the uses and not so great flavor of the seed.


The stems of the Curly dock plant can be peeled and eaten either cooked or raw. Using older stems will require several boil, rinse and boil again attempts before the tart flavor, and slimy texture is acceptable. I do however know a woman who enjoys the older leaves and stems over the young more palatable.

*** Important NOTE:

A caution about wild edibles is that you really need to know your plants before guessing on the ones you can eat. Always talk to a doctor or professional before ingesting wild plants.  Always get multiple opinions from experts in the field of wild foraging.

The author of this article is in no way responsible for any negative reactions or occurrences resulting from your use of wild plants. You are encouraged to do your own research and talk to medical professionals before using any wild plants.


Having the knowledge of Edible Wild Plants is a must for anyone and everyone that wants to survive if catastrophe strikes, or if you are planning a camping, hiking, or any other wilderness activities.

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