Tips for Growing Yellow Dock
Also known curled dock, "narrow-leaved dock," garden patience, narrow dock, and sour dock.
Curly-leafed yellow dock is a native plant to Europe and western Asia. Yellow dock is an important herb in the Native American tradition, as the herb was highly revered for its medicinal qualities.
HERBAL PROPERTIES AND USES:
The word "dock" refers to a type of plant species related to the rhubarb, known for their laxative and purgative effects. It is a more gentle laxative, when compared to cascara sagrada or rhubarb, as it encourages optimal elimination and good digestion by increasing the creation of gastric juices in the intestinal tract and stomach. The roots are the main medicinal component of yellow dock. A wonderful astringent tonic and laxative, the chemical compounds found in yellow dock root have been clinically studied and found to play a powerful role in eliminating toxins from the body through their binding qualities. For example, it has been shown that yellow dock root can effectively bind to heavy metals like lead and arsenic, and help remove them from the body through stimulating the cleansing capacities of the liver. The herb is also effective in cleansing the blood, as well as in the support of hepatic disorders.
Yellow Dock Cultivation and Growing Methods
Leaves in moderate amounts, or boiled, and the roots. It can be used for its leaves, but they should be boiled in several changes of water to get rid of some of the more toxic volatile oils that the plant contains (oxalic acid). The leaves can be used raw, in small amounts, for salads. The roots are what are most commonly used medicinally.
Moist soil is this plant's preference, although it has been found growing in the deserts of the United States. Does best in rich, sandy loam.
Does well with partial shade.
Europe, Western Asia and most of the United States, and is widely distributed in temperate and subtropical regions. USDA - 3-9
Plant the yellow dock seeds in early spring in well-drained, fertile soil. Plant seeds directly in the garden 1/4 inch deep in the soil in single rows, about 8 inches apart.
Reaches maturity approximately 85 to 95 days after planting.
Roots can be harvested in the fall of the second year of growth. Pull the entire root from the ground and avoid breakage. Roots should be 1/2 inch thick and 8-12 inches long
DRYING METHODS / YIELD:
Roots can be dried in the sun or for several hours in the oven on a low temperature, and stored in an air-tight container.
One plant can yield a limitless amount of the root, as this herb is a rapid grower and can withstand most weather conditions. In fact, it is actually considered a problematic weed by most gardeners.
PRESERVATION / PACKAGING METHODS:
Can be dried and stored as any herb or spice in an air-tight container.
ESSENTIAL OIL USE:
Not typically used as an essential oil, as oil can be toxic in concentrated form.
The main chemical components of yellow dock are rumicin and chrysarobin. It also contains amounts of emodin, magnesium, oxalic acid, nepodin, silicon, sodium, selenium, and natural tannins.
IS THIS AN EDIBLE PLANT:
Yes, but can be toxic and even fatal in high doses.
CAUTIONS / CONTRAINDICATIONS:
This plant is a laxative and if taken in high amounts, may produce stomach cramping. Talk with your doctor if you are pregnant or breast-feeding. Yellow dock can cause mild diarrhea in some individuals. Taking yellow dock should be avoided if you have kidney or liver disease, or an electrolyte abnormality.
May interfere with other stimulant laxatives or the medication Lasix (furosemide), as well as any medication that decreases blood calcium, such as Dilantin, Miacalcin, or Mithracin.
Clinical Research About Yellow Dock
- Determination of antioxidant and antimicrobial activities of Rumex crispus L. extracts. Yildirim A, Mavi A, Kara AA. J Agric Food Chem. 2001 Aug;49(8):4083-9. [PMID: 11513714]
- Richard H. Uva, Joseph C. Neal and Joseph M. Ditomaso, Weeds of The Northeast, (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1997), Pp. 286-287.
- Lee Allen Peterson, Edible Wild Plants, (New York City: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1977), p. 154.
- A Modern Herbal: Docks
- Edible and Medicinal Plants of the West, Gregory L. Tilford. 2006.