E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Rumex obtusifolius L.
bitter dock
Polygonaceae (Buckwheat family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Jamie Fenneman  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #11423)

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Distribution of Rumex obtusifolius
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Species Information

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Perennial herb from a large taproot; stems erect, solitary, simple (below the inflorescence), 60-120 cm tall, pimply and finely hairy.
Basal leaves widely oblong or widely egg-shaped, heart-shaped at the base, the margins often crisped, the blades 10-30 cm long, the stalks long; stem leaves alternate, several, similar to basal leaves but reduced upward.
Inflorescence of numerous flowers in a large, many-flowered panicle, 30-50 cm long; perianths greenish-brown, the segments with short, stout teeth on each margin; outer segments about 3 mm long, the ascending inner segments about 5 mm long, net-veined, the margins with 2-4 teeth and usually 1 of the 3 segments with a prominent, grain-like swelling.
Achenes, brown, smooth, shiny, about 2 mm long.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

Habitat / Range

Mesic to dry roadsides and disturbed areas in the lowland zone; frequent in SW BC, infrequent in SC BC, rare in the Queen Charlotte Islands; introduced from Eurasia.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Rumex obtusifolius

The table below shows the species-specific information calculated from
original data (BEC database) provided by the BC Ministry of Forests and Range.
(Updated August, 2013)

Site Information
Value / Class




Elevation (metres) 1 51 324
Slope Gradient (%) 0 2 5
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
180 247 315
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
6 6 7
Modal Nutrient Regime
Number of field plots
 species was recorded in:
Modal BEC Zone Class
All BEC Zones (# of stations/zone) species was recorded in: CDF(6), CWH(3)


The climate type for this species, as reported in the: "British Columbia plant species codes and selected attributes. Version 6 Database" (Meidinger et al. 2008), is cool temperate & cool mesothermal.

Synonyms and Alternate Names

Acetosa oblongifolia (L.) A. Löve & D. Löve
Rumex obtusifolius subsp. agrestis (Fr.) Danser
Rumex obtusifolius subsp. obtusifolius
Rumex obtusifolius subsp. sylvestris (Wallr.) Rech. f.
Rumex obtusifolius var. sylvestris (Wallr.) Koch

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References