Rumex crispus (Curly dock)

In Gaelic, Rumex crispus, a perennial plant in the Buckwheat family, is called copag and copagach, meaning bossy. Tall, six feet high thick, rhurbarb-like stems and dark, ruddy tops with millions of seeds are predominant (or bossy) in any landscape. They transmit a strong presence at the end of summer especially. Being toxic to livestock, this plant is reviled, yet provides potent medicine and nutrition for humans. Also known as yellow dock, the large dark green wavy leaves grow in a rosette around the base, having a membranous sheath (ocrea) under the leaf, that is marker for the Polygonaceae family. Seeds can be ground into flour, tasting somewhat like buckwheat. This plant thrives in human-altered spaces across the globe, is drought tolerant, and was foraged widely during the Depression in the US, having arrived from Eurasia in the 18th century.

With a deep tap root, curly dock accesses water deep in the ground as well as iron and other minerals. The leaves contain a slimy substance. The herb and homeopathic remedy treat mucous membranes, and the plants’ sweetness offers a demulcent quality, soothing tissues, both internal and external, cooling and moistening and also strongly detoxifying. In American Indian medicine, dock is Badger medicine, helping movements of energy down in the digestive tract. (M. Wood) and is helpful for too much emotional intensity, too much appetite, too much fire in the stomach. The plant brings moisture to dry soils. In magical uses, dock is considered masculine, related to the air element and to the planet Jupiter.

Elizabeth Oriel 2022