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
Leaves - raw or cooked
. They can also be dried for later use
. A strong flavour, the leaves can be used in salads in late autumn to the spring, but are better cooked like spinach[K]. The fresh leaves can be available for most months of the year, only dying down for a short period in severe winters[K]. The leaves often become bitter in the summer[K]. In taste trials, this has proved to be a very popular autumn and spring cooked leaf, making an excellent spinach[K].
Dark green to brown and dark grey dyes can be obtained from the roots, they do not need a mordant
The root is astringent and laxative
. It has a regulatory effect on the digestive system, similar to but weaker than rhubarb (Rheum rhaponticum)
. It can act either as a laxative or a cure for diarrhoea according to dosage
. The root is harvested in early spring and dried for later use
Seed - sow spring in a cold frame. The seed can also be sown as soon as it is ripe when it will germinate rapidly and will provide edible leaves from early spring the following year. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in the summer.
Division in spring. Division is easy at almost any time of the year, though the plants establish more rapidly in the spring[K]. Use a sharp spade or knife to divide the rootstock, ensuring that there is at least one growth bud on each section of root. Larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found it best to pot up the smaller divisions and grow them on in a lightly shaded position in a cold frame, planting them out once they are well established in the summer.
Practical Plants is currently lacking information on propagation instructions of Rumex alpinus. Help us fill in the blanks! Edit this page to add your knowledge.
A very easily grown and tolerant plant[K], it succeeds in most soils, preferring a moist moderately fertile well-drained soil in a sunny position
Hardy to about -20°c.
Alpine dock was at one time cultivated for its edible leaves, though it has now fallen out of favour to be replaced by less strong-tasting plants[2, 200, K]. This is a pity because it is a very productive and useful vegetable and can produce its leaves all through the winter if the weather is not too severe[K].
A very important plant for the caterpillars of many species of butterflies
Problems, pests & diseases
Associations & Interactions
There are no interactions listed for Rumex alpinus. Do you know of an interaction that should be listed here? edit this page to add it.
Polycultures & Guilds
There are no polycultures listed which include Rumex alpinus.
This table shows all the data stored for this plant.
Material uses & Functions
Native Climate Zones
Adapted Climate Zones
Native Geographical Range
Root Zone Tendancy
? Bown. D. Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses. Dorling Kindersley, London. ISBN 0-7513-020-31 (1995-00-00)
? 2.02.1 F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956 Oxford University Press (1951-00-00)
? 3.03.1 Hedrick. U. P. Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World. Dover Publications ISBN 0-486-20459-6 (1972-00-00)
? 4.04.1 Mabey. R. Food for Free. Collins ISBN 0-00-219060-5 (1974-00-00)
? 5.05.1 Lust. J. The Herb Book. Bantam books ISBN 0-553-23827-2 (1983-00-00)
? 6.06.1 Sholto-Douglas. J. Alternative Foods. ()
? 7.07.1 Uphof. J. C. Th. Dictionary of Economic Plants. Weinheim (1959-00-00)
? 8.08.1 Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants. Kampong Publications ISBN 0-9628087-0-9 (1990-00-00)
? 9.09.1 Loewenfeld. C. and Back. P. Britain's Wild Larder. David and Charles ISBN 0-7153-7971-2 ()
? 10.010.1 Grae. I. Nature's Colors - Dyes from Plants. MacMillan Publishing Co. New York. ISBN 0-02-544950-8 (1974-00-00)
? 11.011.111.211.311.4 Grieve. A Modern Herbal. Penguin ISBN 0-14-046-440-9 (1984-00-00)
? 12.012.1 Launert. E. Edible and Medicinal Plants. Hamlyn ISBN 0-600-37216-2 (1981-00-00)
? 13.013.1 Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992. MacMillan Press ISBN 0-333-47494-5 (1992-00-00)
? Phillips. R. & Rix. M. Perennials Volumes 1 and 2. Pan Books ISBN 0-330-30936-9 (1991-00-00)
? Carter D. Butterflies and Moths in Britain and Europe. Pan ISBN 0-330-26642-x (1982-00-00)
<ref> tag with name "PFAFimport-17" defined in
<references> is not used in prior text.
"image:Rumex alpinus a1.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.