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Botany Photo of the Day
In science, beauty. In beauty, science. Daily.

Rumex crispus

Rumex crispus
Rumex crispus

Two photographs, two photographers, two locations.

The wintry scene is courtesy of “wrygrass” of Spokane, Washington, who submitted it via the BPotD Submissions on the UBC Botanical Garden Forums (original photograph and accompanying discussion). Thank you, wrygrass!

The second image is from my trip to Manitoba in early August. This was an all-too-familiar scene in 2005 in the southeastern corner of the province. Heavy rainfall through spring and early summer prevented many farmers from being able to access the fields, much less sow seed. As a result, the fallow fields instead grew “crops” of water-tolerant plants, including Rumex crispus (curly dock) – the tall reddish-brown plants – and Hordeum jubatum (foxtail barley), the tufted clumps. As an aside, everytime I saw distant clumps of Hordeum, I was reminded of flocks of sheep. I'm told I have an active imagination.

Curly dock is a native to Europe, Asia and northern Africa, but it has been introduced and naturalized throughout much of the rest of the world (see: Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN) on Rumex crispus and Pacific Islands Ecosystems at Risk (PIER) for the plant). One of its noteworthy qualities is its ability to produce an estimated 100 to over 60 000 seeds per individual plant per year (photographs). If that weren't enough, the seeds can persist in the soil for many years, have a high germination rate and, once seedlings, have a high chance to survive to adulthood.

For more on this resilient plant, see: Zaller, JG. 2004. Ecology and non-chemical control of Rumex crispus and R. obtusifolius (Polygonaceae): a review. Weed Research. 44(6):414-432.

Nature resource link: Guide to the Mangroves of Singapore (flora part of site). It's unfortunate that the images are so small in the species pages, but I suppose they are larger in the guidebooks.

2 Comments

Anthony commented:

This is a very nice seasonal wetlands picture. I have to admire plants for their unabashed opportunism.

Ron B commented:

Upper photo looks like Rumex frigidus to me.

Comments are closed.

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