Bloody Dock

Bloody Dock, 2021, 5.5 X 8.5″, Morning light, Gouache, Walnut Ink

Launching a whole discussion about identifying volunteer plants in the yard, this one really had me stumped. So sure about its identity as red sorrel, I even wrote it on the original in pen at the title. Then I looked it up and well, it just wasn’t. So if not red sorrel then what? I asked the my online followers if they had any ideas and one long time friend took it as a personal quest to find the answer. Bloody Dock!

A view from my porch and slightly angled down, I drew and then painted this one starting on a cold rainy morning bundled in a blanket to keep myself warm. I couldn’t believe it was in the 40’s and 50’s. The mist made the leaves particularly vivid and rich in tone.

10% of all print sales are donated to Story County Conservation, Iowa Arboretum, and Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation

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About Bloody Dock

Rumex sanguineus, known by a number of different common names including bloody dock or red-veined dock, is a tap-rooted rosette-forming perennial of the buckwheat family that typically grows in a rounded foliage clump to 18” tall and as wide.

Other Common Names

Common names for the Rumex sanguineus are wood dock, bloody dock, sorrel, or red-veined dock.

Native Origin

Bloody dock or Rumex sanguineus is native to Europe and parts of northern Iran.

Folk Lore

Rumex sanguineus, also called sorrel and Bloody Dock, was used by the ancient Greeks, Romans and Egyptians for its digestive properties, and it was said to be used a a pick me up after a night of revelry. In the Middle Ages sorrel was used to prevent scurvy.”

Source: Adams, Sue. “Herb Folklore.” Adams Farms,

Traditional Uses

“When being eaten as a vegetable, only the tender young leaves are edible raw, as older leaves become too tough and bitter, and even become inedible with time. It has a flavor along the lines of spinach or chard, with a hint of lemony tartness, and may be cooked the same way you would spinach or chard. Plants can contain quite high levels of oxalic acid, perfectly safe in small quantities, the leaves should still not be eaten in large amounts since the oxalic acid can lock-up other nutrients in food. Cooking reduces oxalic acid content. As an herb, Bloody Dock has shown great promise for preventing cancer and fighting high cholesterol and diseases of the circulatory system. It’s high in vitamins A & C, iron and potassium. It has antiseptic and astringent properties and a decoction of the leaves can be used externally for healing cuts, burns, rashes, wounds, hemorrhoids, insect bites and boils. ”

Source: “Medicinal Herbs – Red-Veined Dock (Rumex Sanguineus).” Medicinal Herbs: RED-VEINED DOCK – Rumex Sanguineus,

Conservation Status

Not Extinct. This herbaceous perennial produces a tightly packed rosette of leaves about a foot tall from a deep taproot in areas of slight shade and rich soil.

10% of all print sales are donated to Story County Conservation, Iowa Arboretum, and Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation

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Learn more about the entire Backyard Botanical Collection by visiting the collection’s gallery page. Visit the online gallery to see originals and prints available.

Thank you for visiting and spending time learning about the botanicals in my backyard. May this bring you a deeper understanding and joy in your own ecology.

Kristin M Roach

Published by kristinMroach

Hi! I am an artist, author, and owner of a modern apothecary called Little Woods in Ames, Iowa.

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