Docks (Rumex)

Horsetails of shores and wastelands

Photo by Jan W. Ahlfors

Russian dock – Rumex confertus

Russian dock grows on the rocky hill below the remains of the old guard building in Vasikkasaari. The species was first discovered in Helsinki in Suomenlinna in 1918. It grows in places that were once used by the Russian military: Santahamina, Lauttasaari and Haaga. It is an eastern species, and the western border of its distribution area goes through the Baltic countries and Belarus.


Curly dock – Rumex crispus

The impressive and sizeable curly dock is a plant of nutrient- and nitrogen-rich areas. It grows both around rocky ponds of bird islets and on sea debris walls in inlets. It has spread inland with people, and grows along ditches, on wastelands and in areas from which earth has been excavated. Dock plants interbreed easily, which is why it can be challenging to tell them apart. Curly dock can be told apart from the northern dock by the scalloped edge of its leaves.


Northern dock – Rumex longifolius

Northern dock is one of the largest of the large docks, at least in terms of the width of its leaves. It has a thick inflorescence. When it dries, is also called a ‘money flower’ and it stands up through the winter. Its seeds are achenes, protected by the pericarp. Pericarp, here, is a protective leaf cover of the achene, and in children’s imagination it can resemble money. This ‘money’ then spreads around by wind during the winter or by water during the spring.