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Marsh Dock

Rumex palustris

Please keep in mind that it is illegal to uproot a plant without the landowner's consent and care should be taken at all times not to damage wild plants. Wild plants should never be picked for pleasure and some plants are protected by law.
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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Polygonaceae (Dock)
Life Cycle:
Biennial or Perennial
Maximum Size:
60 centimetres tall
Ditches, fens, marshes, mud, waterside, wetland.

Red, no petals
The inflorescence is a whorl of reddish-brown flowers.
Flat roundish fruits with 3 large oblong warts. The fruits are well-toothed. Fruits are similar in appearance to Golden Dock (Rumex maritimus) but do not turn yellow in autumn and the teeth are shorter.
Marsh Dock is an annual or short-lived perennial. The leaves are narrow and pointed (lance-shaped), alternate up the stems. It is similar in appearance to Golden Dock (Rumex maritimus).
Other Names:
Great Water Dock.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Rumex palustris, also known as marsh dock or great water dock, is a perennial plant species in the buckwheat family (Polygonaceae). It is native to Europe and Asia and is commonly found in wetland habitats such as marshes, fens, and the edges of lakes and streams. The plant has large, triangular leaves and small green flowers that grow in clusters. The roots, leaves, and stems of R. palustris have been used medicinally in some traditional systems to treat a variety of ailments, although there is limited scientific evidence to support these uses. The plant is also sometimes used as a food source, although it is not as well known or widely cultivated as some other species in the Rumex genus.


Marsh Dock: A Unique and Valuable Plant in Wetlands

Marsh dock, scientifically known as Rumex palustris, is a plant species commonly found in wetland habitats, such as marshes, swamps, and bogs. This plant is a member of the buckwheat family, Polygonaceae, and is known for its distinctive leaf shape, large size, and medicinal properties.

One of the most notable features of marsh dock is its large, triangular leaves. These leaves can grow up to 20 inches in length and are dark green in color. They have a glossy appearance and are smooth to the touch. The plant also produces clusters of small, greenish-yellow flowers that bloom in late summer, providing a valuable source of nectar for pollinators.

In addition to its distinctive appearance, marsh dock is also known for its medicinal properties. The plant has been used for centuries to treat a variety of ailments, including digestive issues, skin problems, and respiratory issues. It is believed that the compounds in marsh dock help to reduce inflammation and promote healing in the body.

Despite its medicinal properties, marsh dock is often considered a weed by farmers and gardeners, as it can quickly spread and take over an area. However, in wetland habitats, marsh dock plays an important role in the ecosystem. It provides food and habitat for a variety of wildlife, including birds, mammals, and insects. Additionally, its large leaves help to stabilize the soil and reduce erosion, making it an important plant for maintaining the health of wetland ecosystems.

Marsh dock is a unique and valuable plant species that can be found in wetlands across the world. Its distinctive appearance, medicinal properties, and ecological importance make it a valuable part of our natural world. If you live near a wetland habitat, be sure to take a look at the marsh dock growing there and appreciate its unique beauty and importance.

The importance of marsh dock to the ecosystem extends beyond just providing food and habitat. It is also an important source of organic matter for the wetland soil, as its leaves and stems decompose and add nutrients to the soil. This organic matter helps to improve soil structure and fertility, making it easier for other plants to grow in the area.

In addition to its ecological importance, marsh dock has a long history of use by humans. Native American tribes used the plant for medicinal purposes, as well as for food. The young leaves of marsh dock are edible and were often eaten fresh or cooked. They are still used today in some cultures for food, although they are considered to have a slightly bitter taste.

Despite its many uses and benefits, marsh dock is not a well-known species, and its importance is often overlooked. In many parts of the world, wetland habitats are being drained and destroyed for development, and the plants and animals that rely on these habitats are at risk of extinction. It is important that we work to protect and preserve wetland habitats, and the plants and animals that live there, so that future generations can continue to enjoy their benefits.

Marsh dock is a unique and valuable plant species that is often overlooked but plays an important role in wetland ecosystems. By protecting and preserving wetland habitats, we can ensure that marsh dock and other important species continue to thrive and provide their many benefits to the environment and to humans.

It's also worth mentioning that marsh dock is an important part of the food chain in wetland habitats. Its leaves, stems, and roots provide food for a variety of herbivores, such as deer, rabbits, and muskrats. These herbivores, in turn, provide food for carnivores, such as foxes, otters, and birds of prey. This complex web of relationships helps to maintain the balance of the wetland ecosystem and is crucial for its health and survival.

The importance of marsh dock extends beyond just its ecological and cultural value. It also has potential as a bioenergy crop, as its large, fibrous stems can be used to produce biofuels. As the demand for renewable energy sources continues to grow, the development of bioenergy crops like marsh dock could play a significant role in reducing our dependence on fossil fuels.

In addition to its potential as a bioenergy crop, marsh dock also has potential for use in the production of natural fibers and textiles. Its large, fibrous stems contain cellulose, which can be processed into a variety of natural fibers, such as flax and hemp. These fibers have a number of advantages over synthetic fibers, including being biodegradable and renewable.

In conclusion, marsh dock is a versatile and valuable plant species that has a range of benefits for the environment, human health, and industry. Its importance cannot be overstated, and it is crucial that we work to protect and preserve wetland habitats so that marsh dock and other important species can continue to thrive. By doing so, we can ensure that future generations will be able to enjoy the many benefits of this unique and valuable plant.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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