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Northern Dock

Rumex longifolius

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:
Maximum Size:
120 centimetres tall
Ditches, fields, grassland, meadows, riverbanks, riversides, roadsides, wasteland, waterside.

Green, no petals
The flowers appear in whorled clusters. The flowers are small and greenish. 6 stamens. Wind pollinated.
The fruit is a glossy brown, 3-angled achene, about 3mm in size.
An erect perennial plant with basal leaves in a rosette. The stem leaves are narrow and curly-edged, similar to those of Curled Dock (Rumex crispus). The leaves spiral up the stems. Leaves measure up to 40cm long and 15cm wide.
Other Names:
Butter Dock, Dooryard Dock, Long-leaved Dock, Yellow Dock.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Rumex longifolius, also known as the long-leaved dock or yellow dock, is a perennial plant species in the buckwheat family (Polygonaceae). It is native to Europe and Asia and is commonly found in moist, grassy habitats such as meadows, pastures, and along streams and rivers. The plant has large, oblong leaves and small green flowers that grow in clusters. The roots, leaves, and stems of R. longifolius have been used medicinally in some traditional systems to treat a variety of ailments, including skin conditions and digestive issues. 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.


Northern Dock (Rumex longifolius) is a species of wildflower that is native to the northern hemisphere, including parts of Europe, Asia, and North America. This plant is part of the Buckwheat family and is commonly known by a variety of other names, such as Long-leaved Dock, Garden Dock, and Narrow-leaved Dock.

Northern Dock is a hardy and resilient plant that grows well in a variety of environments, from meadows and pastures to roadsides and disturbed soils. The plant is capable of adapting to a range of soil types and conditions, including damp or wet soils, making it an ideal choice for many different types of landscapes.

The Northern Dock plant grows to an average height of 2 to 3 feet, with long, narrow leaves that are green on top and brown on the bottom. The leaves are typically 4 to 8 inches in length and are smooth and slightly glossy on the surface. The plant produces small, greenish-yellow flowers in late spring and early summer, which are followed by small, green seed pods in the fall.

Despite its hardy nature and adaptability, Northern Dock is often considered an invasive species in some areas, due to its ability to spread rapidly and take over other plants in a given area. The plant is particularly invasive in areas where the native vegetation has been disturbed, such as in agricultural land or along roadsides.

In addition to its invasive tendencies, Northern Dock is also a common source of allergens and can cause skin irritation or allergic reactions in some individuals. For this reason, it is important to be cautious when working with or handling the plant.

Despite its potential drawbacks, Northern Dock has a number of positive attributes that make it a valuable species to have in your landscape. For example, the plant provides food and habitat for a variety of wildlife, including birds, insects, and small mammals. Additionally, the plant is an excellent source of nutrition for livestock, as the leaves and stems can be used as feed.

Northern Dock is a hardy and resilient species that is capable of growing in a variety of environments. Although it can be considered invasive in some areas and is a source of allergens, it also provides valuable habitat and food for wildlife and livestock. If you're considering planting Northern Dock in your landscape, be sure to take into account the potential risks and benefits before doing so.

Northern Dock has also been used for a variety of medicinal purposes throughout history. For example, the leaves of the plant have been used to make a tea that is believed to have a number of health benefits, including the relief of digestive problems, skin irritation, and joint pain. In addition, the plant has been used to treat a range of other conditions, including wounds, infections, and even scurvy.

One of the most interesting uses for Northern Dock is as a natural dye. The plant produces a yellow dye that can be used to color a variety of fabrics, including wool and silk. In the past, this dye was used to produce vibrant yellow hues in clothing and other textiles, and today it is still used by some natural dye enthusiasts for this purpose.

In terms of cultivation, Northern Dock is a relatively easy plant to grow and is well suited to a range of different growing conditions. The plant can be propagated from seed or by division of the root system, and it is best planted in the spring or fall when the soil is moist and temperatures are cool.

Overall, Northern Dock is a fascinating and versatile species that has played an important role in human history and culture. Whether you are interested in its medicinal properties, its ability to provide food and habitat for wildlife, or simply its beauty, Northern Dock is definitely a plant worth considering for your landscape.

Northern Dock is also a useful plant for wildlife habitats, especially for birds. The seeds of the plant are a valuable food source for a variety of bird species, including finches, sparrows, and buntings. Additionally, the plant provides cover and habitat for a range of other wildlife, including insects, small mammals, and reptiles.

In terms of landscaping, Northern Dock can be used in a variety of different ways, depending on the specific goals of the garden. For example, it can be used as a border plant or as a groundcover in areas where grass is difficult to grow. The plant also makes an attractive addition to naturalistic or meadow-style gardens, and can be used in combination with other wildflowers to create a beautiful and diverse landscape.

One thing to keep in mind when planting Northern Dock is that the plant is considered invasive in some areas, so it is important to be mindful of its potential impact on native vegetation. In these areas, it is a good idea to plant Northern Dock in a contained area, such as a raised bed or a large container, to prevent it from spreading into other areas of the landscape.

Finally, it is important to note that Northern Dock is not only an important plant for the environment and wildlife, but it also has a rich cultural history. Throughout history, the plant has been used for food, medicine, dye, and more, and it continues to play a role in human culture and tradition in many parts of the world.

In conclusion, Northern Dock is a valuable and fascinating plant that has much to offer to the landscape, wildlife, and human culture. Whether you are interested in its medicinal properties, its ability to provide food and habitat for wildlife, or simply its beauty, Northern Dock is definitely worth considering for your garden or landscape.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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