Dock Seeds are Key to Identifying Dock Varieties
We found two different types of dock this week. The thing I love about dock varieties is that you can identify bitter dock (and curly dock) in winter just by looking at the seeds. Even when the leaves are hidden under ice and snow, you can examine the seed heads that are sticking out through the snow.
Curly dock was on the nature calendar this month. At first, all we could find was a similar weed, but the seeds were the wrong shape. My six-year-old daughter kept telling me that she thinks we found the right plant because the stalks and seeds looked like the pictures. I told her it couldn’t be, because the seeds were different. Curly dock has triangular-shaped seeds with smooth edges. This weed had prickly seeds that got caught on our clothes.
After puzzling over this, I realized that we had read about different types of dock. Could this be a different variety that had a slightly different seed type? I found this photo of the different seed types of dock varieties and I realized we were on the right track. (Scroll down to last photo on page in the link.)
Eureka! The seeds looked exactly like bitter dock.
A few days later we did find a few curly dock stalks. You can see the smoother seeds in the photos below.
So with a bit of detective work, you can use dock seeds to identify dock varieties, including curly dock and bitter dock, in winter.
I’m not a nature expert and am just learning one day, one nature discovery, at a time. I welcome corrections on anything I write here.