Herb: Western Dock
Latin name: Rumex occidentalis
Synonyms: Rumex aquaticus fenestratus, Rumex fenestratus
Family: Polygonaceae (Buckwheat Family)
Medicinal use of Western Dock:The leaves have been used in herbal sweat baths to treat pains similar to rheumatism all over the body. A poultice of the leaves and mashed, roasted roots has been applied to sores, boils and wounds. A poultice of the root paste has been applied to cuts and boils.
Description of the plant:
Habitat of the herb:Moist and swampy areas, summer-drying meadows, seacoast to foothills, valley and open montane flats.
Edible parts of Western Dock:Young leaves - cooked. Used like spinach. A bitter taste, the native North American Indians would add oil to improve the flavour. Young stems - cooked. Used like rhubarb. Seed - raw or cooked. The seed can also be ground into a powder and used to make a gruel or added to cereal flours when making bread etc. It is rather small and fiddly to harvest.
Other uses of the herb:Although no specific mention has been made for this species, dark green to brown and dark grey dyes can be obtained from the roots of many species in this genus, They do not need a mordant.
Propagation of Western Dock:Seed - sow spring in a cold frame. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in the summer. Division in spring.
Cultivation of the herb:Moist and swampy areas, summer-drying meadows, seacoast to foothills, valley and open montane flats.
Known hazards of Rumex occidentalis:Plants can contain quite high levels of oxalic acid, which is what gives the leaves of many members of this genus an acid-lemon flavour. Perfectly alright in small quantities, the leaves should not be eaten in large amounts since the oxalic acid can lock-up other nutrients in the food, especially calcium, thus causing mineral deficiencies. The oxalic acid content will be reduced if the plant is cooked. People with a tendency to rheumatism, arthritis, gout, kidney stones or hyperacidity should take especial caution if including this plant in their diet since it can aggravate their condition.
Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.