Rumex sanguineus var. sanguineus

Common Name: red-veined dock 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Polygonaceae
Native Range: Europe, southwestern Asia, northern Africa
Zone: 5 to 8
Height: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 1.50 feet
Bloom Time: June to July
Bloom Description: Green maturing to reddish-brown
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Colorful


Easily grown in average, medium moisture, well-drained soil in full sun. Best performance is with consistently moist soils. Soils must not be allowed to dry out. Self-seeds and can be invasive in the garden. Some gardeners prefer to remove the flower stalks immediately both to prevent self-seeding and to promote bushy leaf growth. Leaves often lose sharp leaf and stem coloration as they age and may be trimmed off to promote growth on new leaves. Plants are reportedly winter hardy to USDA Zone 6, but have survived winters in Zones 4 and 5. Plants may be directly seeded in the garden in spring. May be grown as an annual. Propagate by seed or division.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Rumex sanguineus, known by a number of different common names including bloody dock or red-veined dock, is a tap-rooted rosette-forming perennial of the buckwheat family that typically grows in a rounded foliage clump to 18” tall and as wide. It is native to ditches, clearings and forests in Europe and Asia, but has over time escaped gardens and naturalized in certain areas of the U. S. and Canada. It is primarily grown as a decorative foliage accent to showcase its oblong to lance-shaped medium green leaves (to 6” long) which are prominently veined with contrasting red to purple. It is also sometimes grown in vegetable/herb gardens for harvest of its edible young leaves. In early summer, tiny star-shaped flowers appear in panicles atop reddish-tinged stems growing to 30” tall. Flowers emerge green, but mature to reddish brown. Flowers are followed by reddish-brown fruit.

In addition to its ornamental virtues, the young leaves of this plant are edible and add interesting color and a spinach-like taste to salads. Some people may experience mild stomach upset after ingesting the leaves however. Other species of this genus are generally regarded as much better culinary plants. Rumex acetosa meaning garden sorrel and Rumex scutatus meaning French sorrel are more often grown in herb or vegetable gardens for their leaves which are typically added to salads, soups, omelettes and sauces. Other species of Rumex are perhaps more accurately described as being invasive weeds (see Rumex crispus).

Var. sanguineus is uncommonly found in the wild, but is much more commonly cultivated and sold by nurseries than species plants. It is noted for having bright red to purple leaf veins. Flora of North America suggests that var. sanguineus probably arose as a mutant from the common, wild var. viridis.

Genus name comes from the Latin name.

Specific epithet from Latin means bloody red in reference to the leaf veins.


No serious insect or disease problems. Watch for snails and slugs. Rust and leaf spot may occur.


Attractive ornamental foliage plant for herbaceous or mixed borders. Also may be grown in herb or vegetable gardens. Pond marginal. Containers.