Herb: Willow Dock

Latin name: Rumex salicifolius

Family: Polygonaceae (Buckwheat Family)

Medicinal use of Willow Dock:

The roots are astringent, blood purifier, laxative, poultice and salve. A decoction has been used in the treatment of severe constipation. An infusion has been used in the treatment of stomach aches. The mashed roots have been used as a salve on sore limbs and on chicken pox rash. The dried, powdered root has been used as a dusting powder on sores and cuts.

Description of the plant:


60 cm
(2 feet)

Habitat of the herb:

Coastal sand dunes to river banks, lake shores, mountain meadows and rocky slopes.

Edible parts of Willow Dock:

Young leaves - cooked. Used as greens. Stems - cooked. They can be peeled, then boiled with sugar and used like rhubarb. The stems can be baked, peeled and the inner pulp eaten hot or cold. Seed - cooked. It can be ground into a powder and cooked with water until it has the consistency of a thick gravy.

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 Willow 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:

Coastal sand dunes to river banks, lake shores, mountain meadows and rocky slopes.

Known hazards of Rumex salicifolius:

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.