A name applied to various species of Rumex (of the Polygonaceae).The commonest species - growing in fields and yards - are the Curled or Narrow-leaved Dock. (R. Crispus, Linn.) And the Bitter or Broad-leaved Belleville are among the best kinds. The former (Fig. 728) is the better of the two, perhaps, and it has the advantage of being a week or 10 days earlier. The crisp leaves (blades 1ft. long) appear early in April, when there is nothing green to be had in the open ,and they can be cut continuously for a month or more.
This Dock is the Herb Patience (Rumex Patientia, Linn.) It has long been an inhabitant of gardens, and it has sparingly run wild in some parts of this country. It is a native of Europe. The Belleville (Fig. 729) is also a European plant, and is really a Sorrel (Rumex Acetosa, Linn.)
It has also become spontaneous in some of the eastern portions of the country. It has thinner, lighter green and longer-stalked leaves than the Spinage Dock, with spear-like probes at the base. The leaves are very sour, and will probably not prove to be so generally agreeable as those of the Spinage Dock; but they are later, and afford a succession.
In some countries this Sorrel yields oxalic acid sufficient for commercial purposes. The round-leaved or true French Sorrel (Rumex scutatus, Linn.) would probably be preferable to most persons. All these Docks are hardy perennials, and are very acceptable plants to those who are fond of early "greens." Some, at least, of the cultivated Docks can be procured of American seedsmen.