curly dock left, burdock right

Dock, curly (left) and burdock (right), (Rumex crispus). Photo: Betty Marose

Updated: May 11, 2022

Life cycle 

Perennial emerges from large yellowish taproot; also grows from seed.

Growth habit 

Basal rosettes of 6-12 in. long leaves.

immature dock
Immature dock foliage

Reproduction

Flowering stalks (right) grow up to 3 ft. tall and green, turning rusty brown, persisting through winter; seeds remain viable in soil up to 80 years; can produce from 100 - 60,000 seeds per plant.

dock in flower
Dock in flower

Conditions that favor growth

Nutrient-rich, heavy damp soils; adapts to dry, poor soils.

Management in lawns

Lawn care practices.

Maintain healthy, dense turf that can compete and prevent weed establishment.

Lawn Care

Mechanical management

Hand pulling or using an appropriate weeding tool that removes the root are the primary means of mechanical weed management. Removing the entire tap root can be difficult causing it to regrow. This is a viable option at the beginning of an infestation and on young weeds. Hand pulling when the soil is moist makes the task easier.

Manage Weeds Without Chemicals

Chemical treatment in lawns

If you choose this option, spot treat weeds with a liquid, selective, postemergent, broadleaf weed killer applied when weeds are actively growing. Look for a product with one or more of the following active ingredients: 2, 4-D, MCPP (mecoprop), Dicamba*, or Triclopyr.

*Do not spray herbicides containing dicamba over the root zone of trees and shrubs. Roots can absorb the product possibly causing plant damage. Refer to the product label for precautions.

Lawn Herbicides for Weed Management