30th March 2013

There are 13 species of Dock that are found in the UK (not all native) together with our 3 species of Sorrel they make up the Rumex genus.  Many of the species are either rare or have a restricted range, but there are three species that found commonly throughout the UK; Broad-leaved Dock R. obtusifolius, Curled Dock R. crispus and Wood Dock R. sanguineus.


Young Broad-leaved Dock - Rumex obtusifolius - foraging course in the uk
Young Broad-leaved Dock Rumex obtusifolius


All three can all be found in roadside verges, hedgerows, wasteland, woodland rides, pasture land etc. They all have distinct largish, lanceolate basal leaves, and as they are perennials they can usually be found most of the year and can be used interchangeably.  At this time of year the small young leaves that are just coming through are perfect to use.

The larger leaves can be tough and bitter but can be steeped in hot water for 15 minutes or blanched in boiling water for a few minutes to remove some of the bitterness. Plant’s picked in shadier areas may be less bitter and there can be considerable variation between populations so it is worth trying several plants from different places before giving up on them.

The very young leaves can be used raw but they are usually cooked either on their own or mixed with other spring leaves, fried with onions and garlic (or indeed Ramsoms and Three-cornered Leeks). Their flavour is enhanced by nettles and as every school boy knows they can often be found growing near each other so you are able to collect both at the same time.  With the large leaves the size and robust texture make them ideal for wrapping food and they can be used as a substitute for vine leaves when making dolmades etc.

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Kev Palmer

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