I'm new, and joined just because I keep seeing flowers I'd like (maybe) in my yard and I need to identify them to see if they're toxic to pets! This one has light red stems, with deep red flower spikes, and low, ground-lying deeply lobed leaves. The spikes look like Amaranthus spikes, but the leaves most certainly don't! Any ideas or suggestions to research would be greatly appreciated. I've done an image search, but can find nothing like this, and I don't know enough about plants to even guess at a family or species. [Edit: On closer inspection, the leaves are not deeply lobed, they've just been chewed on by some insect.] whole plant

  • Can you post some closeup/clearer photos of the flowers, leaves etc..
    – Spectra
    Jul 21, 2021 at 16:30
  • Yes, I have them, but I'm not sure how to add them. I don't see an "add a picture" link in the comment box, and there also isn't one in the "edit" box for the original post. Do I have to make a new post or is there some feature I'm not finding on this page?
    – KarenJG
    Jul 21, 2021 at 18:06
  • @KarenJG You can't add pictures to comments. You probably need to accumulate some reputation points before you can edit your original posts to add more pictures to it. But I think I know what it is from the picture you already posted.
    – alephzero
    Jul 21, 2021 at 18:10

1 Answer 1


It looks like a dock (or docken in some parts of the UK) which has gone to seed. There are two common species of these weeds in the UK, the broad-leaved dock Rumex crispus and the curly-leaved dock Rumex obtusifolius, but there are hundreds of other species world wide.

Far from being poisonous, the seeds can be ground into gluten-free flour, and the leaves are also edible and were used in many herbal medicines.

You had better learn to love these weeds, because you will never get rid of them. They are one of the five weeds covered by legislation in the UK (the 1959 Weeds Act) in an attempt to restrict their spread.

They grow very deep tap roots (up to 1 meter / 3 feet) and any broken-off piece of root can produce a new plant. Also, the seeds can survive for 50 years until the conditions are right for germination.

Old UK gardening lore said that if you dig up dock plants, burn them on a bonfire, keep the ashes in a jar for seven years, and then scatter them on the ground, they will immediately start to grow again. That's probably an exaggeration, but it's a fair description of how hard it is to eradicate them.

Attempting to dig them up will fail. They will grow again from any broken pieces of root left behind.

Brushwood killer or glyphosate will kill the plants, but not the seeds so you can still expect more of them for the next 50 years, from seed that is already in the ground!

  • OKay, looked up "dock or docken" plants, and it looks like we may have an ID! The leaves look right, and the flower/seed spikes are the same, but a different color on the ones I found. Still looking! Oh, and I don't want to get rid if them, I want to add some to a flower bed that needs some tall color for balance.
    – KarenJG
    Jul 21, 2021 at 18:13
  • @KarenJG They seed spikes are green before the seeds ripen, and change through shades of brown and red to almost black. Some species may have different colored seeds.
    – alephzero
    Jul 21, 2021 at 18:16
  • 1
    "I want to add some to a flower bed that needs some tall color for balance" - just be careful what you wish for :)
    – alephzero
    Jul 21, 2021 at 18:17
  • I found a picture that looks EXACTLY like the plants I see on my walk. They're growing wild in a stalled subdivision development site that we walk by nearly every day. I think I'll just dig/pull one up and put it in a pot to see if it survives/grows, and go from there. NOte: just saw your new comment. Yeah, I'll have to be careful not to let it take over. Or I could just give it it's own area - they'd be pretty massed in a isolated corner, too...
    – KarenJG
    Jul 21, 2021 at 18:19
  • Found a great site detailing the health benefits, if anybody's interested: healthbenefitstimes.com/dock
    – KarenJG
    Jul 21, 2021 at 18:22

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