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Patience Dock

Rumex patientia

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:
1 metre tall
Fields, gardens, grassland, riverbanks, roadsides, towns, wasteland, waterside.

Green, no petals
Dense spikes of green flowers. Wind pollinated.
The flattened, roundish fruits are untoothed. Each fruit has a single round wart in its centre. The seeds ripen in August.
A perennial garden escape species with broad leaves, up to 13cm long. Leaf margins are slightly wavy and the bases of the leaves (unlike some docks) are not heart-shaped.
Other Names:
Common Dock, Garden Patience, Herb Patience, Monk's Rhubarb.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Rumex patientia, also known as the patience dock or common dock, is a perennial plant species in the buckwheat family (Polygonaceae). It is native to Europe and is commonly found in a variety of habitats including grasslands, fields, and along roadsides. The plant has large, oblong leaves and small green flowers that grow in clusters. The roots, leaves, and stems of R. patientia 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.


Patience Dock, also known by its scientific name Rumex patientia, is a common weed that grows in many parts of the world. Despite being considered a nuisance by many, this plant has a rich history of use in traditional medicine, food, and dye-making.

Patience Dock is a perennial plant that grows to a height of about 2-3 feet, with leaves that are oblong and toothed at the edges. The plant produces clusters of small, green flowers that eventually turn into seed heads. The leaves and stems of the plant are covered in a reddish-brown coating of tiny hairs, which give the plant a rough texture.

One of the most interesting uses of Patience Dock is in traditional medicine. In Europe, the plant was used as a cure for various ailments, including digestive problems, skin irritations, and wounds. The root of the plant was often made into a tea, which was then consumed to help soothe stomach problems and other digestive issues. Additionally, the juice from the leaves was sometimes used as a topical treatment for wounds and skin irritations.

In addition to its medicinal uses, Patience Dock has a long history of being used as a food. The young leaves of the plant are edible, and were traditionally consumed as a bitter greens in many parts of Europe. In fact, the plant's species name "patientia" is derived from the Latin word for "patience," which was used to describe the plant's ability to survive in difficult conditions and the patience required to eat its bitter leaves.

Patience Dock is also used as a natural dye-making ingredient. The roots of the plant contain a yellow pigment that can be used to dye wool and other fabrics. The plant was commonly used as a dye in medieval Europe, and its yellow color was especially popular in the production of cloth for church vestments.

Patience Dock may be considered a weed by some, but its history of use as a food, medicine, and dye-making ingredient highlights its versatility and importance. Whether you are looking for a natural remedy for digestive problems, a source of bitter greens, or a way to add color to your cloth, Patience Dock is a plant worth getting to know.

Another important aspect of Patience Dock is its role in wildlife habitats. The plant is a source of food and shelter for many species of insects and animals, including bees, butterflies, and birds. The seeds of the plant are a valuable food source for birds, especially during the winter months when other food sources may be scarce. The plant's leaves and stems also provide shelter and hiding places for small mammals, reptiles, and insects.

In recent years, Patience Dock has become an important component of sustainable and organic farming practices. The plant is known to have a deep root system that helps to improve soil structure and fertility. It is often used as a companion plant in crop rotations, as it helps to reduce soil erosion and suppress the growth of other weeds.

Despite its many benefits, Patience Dock can be a difficult plant to control in certain circumstances. The plant's deep root system allows it to spread quickly and resist attempts to remove it. However, there are various methods for controlling the growth of Patience Dock, including hand-pulling, using mulch or compost to suppress growth, and using selective herbicides.

Patience Dock is a plant with a rich history and a wide range of uses. Its ability to thrive in difficult conditions and provide food and shelter for wildlife makes it an important component of sustainable farming practices. Whether you view it as a nuisance or a valuable resource, there is no denying the versatility and importance of this common weed.

In addition to its many practical uses, Patience Dock also has a place in folklore and traditional stories. The plant is often associated with patience and perseverance, and it is said to represent resilience and the ability to overcome adversity. In some cultures, Patience Dock was considered to have protective properties, and was sometimes hung over doorways or windows to ward off evil spirits.

In literature, Patience Dock has been referenced in many works, including the poems of William Shakespeare and the writings of the Roman poet Ovid. The plant's association with patience has made it a popular symbol in literature, and its presence in a text often serves as a metaphor for perseverance and fortitude.

Patience Dock is also an important ingredient in traditional herbal remedies and remedies passed down from generations. Its roots and leaves contain various compounds with medicinal properties, including tannins, oxalates, and anthraquinones, which are known to have a soothing effect on the digestive system and other parts of the body.

In modern times, Patience Dock continues to be used for a variety of purposes. The plant is still used in traditional medicine, and is sometimes consumed in the form of teas or extracts to help treat various ailments. Additionally, its yellow pigment is still used as a natural dye for cloth and other materials.

In conclusion, Patience Dock is a plant with a rich history and a wide range of uses. Its association with patience, perseverance, and resilience has made it an important symbol in folklore, literature, and traditional remedies. Whether you view it as a weed or a valuable resource, there is no denying the versatility and importance of this common plant.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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