Bitter dock Rumex obtusifolius, photographed by Emmet Judziewicz.

Belongs within: Polygonaceae.

Rumex, the docks, is a genus of about 200 species of herbaceous plants found worldwide, with the greatest number of species in north temperate regions. A number of species have become widely spread outside their native ranges as pasture weeds; the curled dock Rumex crispus is toxic to livestock, causing dermatitis and gastric illness (Henty 1978). The genus is divided between the subgenera Rumex and Acetosa. Species of subgenus Rumex generally have bisexual flowers with green perianths and stems are stout and erect to decumbent, whereas the usually dioecious members of subgenus Acetosa have more or less red perianths and stems are erect and slender (Hickman 1993).

Characters (from Henty 1978): Annual or perennial herbs, often acid. Leaves spirally arranged, or lower leaves in basal rosette; sheaths short, ocreas well developed. Inflorescence racemose or paniculate; flowers bisexual, monoecious or dioecious, stipitate, articulate on arched pedicels, in bracteate fascicles, which may be many-flowered forming partial whorls. Tepals in two whorls of three; outer whorl small, not much accrescent after anthesis; inner whorl finally much enlarged, enclosing fruit; stamens 6; ovary trigonous; styles 3, short, with large dissected stigmas. Fruit sharply trigonous.

<==Rumex Linnaeus 1753 [Rumiceae] A61
    |--R. subg. Rumex H93
    |    |--R. sect. Rumex H93
    |    |    |--R. conglomeratus H93
    |    |    |--R. crispus Linnaeus 1753 H93, H78
    |    |    |--R. dentatus [incl. R. dentatus var. klotzschianus] H93
    |    |    |--R. hymenosepalus H93
    |    |    |--R. kerneri H93
    |    |    |--R. maritimus [incl. R. fuegianus, R. persicarioides] H93
    |    |    |--R. obtusifolius [incl. R. obtusifolius ssp. agrestis] H93
    |    |    |--R. occidentalis [incl. R. fenestratus] H93
    |    |    |--R. orbiculatus H93
    |    |    |--R. pulcher H93
    |    |    |--R. stenophyllus H93
    |    |    `--R. violascens H93
    |    `--R. sect. Axillares H93
    |         |--R. salicifolius H93
    |         |    |--R. s. var. salicifolius H93
    |         |    |--R. s. var. crassus H93
    |         |    |--R. s. var. denticulatus [incl. R. californicus, R. utahensis] H93
    |         |    |--R. s. var. lacustris H93
    |         |    |--R. s. var. transitorius H93
    |         |    `--R. s. var. triangulivalvis H93
    |         `--R. venosus H93
    `--R. subg. Acetosa H93
         |--R. acetosella H90 [incl. Acetosella angiocarpa H90, R. angiocarpus H93]
         |--R. paucifolius [incl. R. paucifolius var. gracilescens] H93
         |--R. sagittatus [=Acetosa sagittata] H90
         `--R. vesicarius [=Acetosa vesicaria] H90

Rumex incertae sedis:
  R. acetosa PT01
  R. alpinus C55
  R. bidens H90
  R. brownii Campd. 1819 [incl. R. fimbriotus Brown 1810 (preoc.)] H78
  R. bucephalophorus PT98
    |--R. b. ssp. bucephalophorus PT98
    `--R. b. ssp. gallicus PT98
  R. crystallinus H90
  R. decumbens D03
  R. dumosus [incl. R. dumosiformis] H90
  R. flexuosus Forst. ex Spreng. 1825 ME70 (see below for synonymy)
  R. hastatus F92
  R. hydrolapathum LDB98
  R. lunaria ES06
  R. neglectus Kirk 1877 A61 [incl. R. cuneifolius var. alismaefolius C06]
  R. nepalensis O88
  R. palustris LDB98
  R. patientia O88
    |--R. p. ssp. patientia O88
    `--R. p. ssp. pamiricus O88
  R. sanguineus [incl. R. viridis] C06
  R. scutatus C55
  R. stenoglottis H90
  R. tenax H90
  R. tuberosus PT98
    |--R. t. ssp. tuberosus PT98
    `--R. t. ssp. creticus PT98

Rumex flexuosus Forst. ex Spreng. 1825 ME70 [incl. R. brownianus Cunn. 1838 non Campd. 1819 A61, R. cunninghamii Meissn. in DC. 1856 A61]

*Type species of generic name indicated


[A61] Allan, H. H. 1961. Flora of New Zealand vol. 1. Indigenous Tracheophyta: Psilopsida, Lycopsida, Filicopsida, Gymnospermae, Dicotyledones. R. E. Owen, Government Printer: Wellington (New Zealand).

[C55] Candolle, A. de. 1855. Géographie Botanique Raisonée: Ou exposition des faits principaux et des lois concernant la distribution géographique des plantes de l’époque actuelle vol. 2. Librairie de Victor Masson: Paris.

[C06] Cheeseman, T. F. 1906. Manual of the New Zealand Flora. John Mackay, Government Printer: Wellington.

[D03] Dusén, P. 1903. The vegetation of western Patagonia. In: Scott, W. B. (ed.) Reports of the Princeton University Expeditions to Patagonia, 1896–1899 vol. 8. Botany pp. 1–34. The University: Princeton (New Jersey).

[ES06] Erber, D., & M. Schöller. 2006. Revision of the Cryptocephalus-species of the Canary Islands and Madeira (Insecta, Coleoptera, Chrysomelidae, Cryptocephalinae). Senckenbergiana Biologica 86 (1): 85–107.

[F92] Fan Z. 1992. Key to the Common Flies of China 2nd ed. Science Press: Beijing.

[H90] Harden, G. J. (ed.) 1990. Flora of New South Wales vol. 1. New South Wales University Press.

[H78] Henty, E. E. 1978. Polygonaceae. In: Womersley, J. S. (ed.) Handbooks of the Flora of Papua New Guinea vol. 1 pp. 222–248. Melbourne University Press: Carlton South (Australia).

[H93] Hickman, J. C. (ed.) 1993. The Jepson Manual: Higher Plants of California. University of California Press: Berkeley (California).

[LDB98] Lenssen, J. P. M., G. E. ten Dolle & C. W. P. M. Blom. 1998. The effect of flooding on the recruitment of reed marsh and tall forb plant species. Plant Ecology 139: 13–23.

[ME70] Moore, L. B., & E. Edgar. 1970. Flora of New Zealand vol. 2. Indigenous Tracheophyta: Monocotyledones except Gramineae. A. R. Shearer, Government Printer: Wellington (New Zealand).

[O88] Ohba, H. 1988. The alpine flora of the Nepal Himalayas: an introductory note. In: Ohba, H., & S. B. Malla (eds) The Himalayan Plants vol. 1. The University Museum, University of Tokyo, Bulletin 31: 19-46.

[PT98] Panitsa, M., & D. Tzanoudakis. 1998. Contribution to the study of the Greek flora: flora and vegetation of the E Aegean islands Agathonisi and Pharmakonisi. Willdenowia 28: 95–116.

[PT01] Pemberton, L. M. S., S.-L. Tsai, P. H. Lovell & P. J. Harris. 2001. Epidermal patterning in seedling roots of eudicotyledons. Annals of Botany 87: 649–654.

Last updated: 27 August 2020.

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