Bloody Dock - Rumex sanguineus

Bloody Dock

Rumex sanguineus

Its tender young leaves are eaten as vegetables as the old ones become bitter and tough with time. They taste like spinach with a hint of citrusy lemon.

  • Plant Family: Polygonaceae
  • Plant type: Perennial
  • Other names: Bloody sorrel, Bloodwort, Redvein dock, Wood dock
  • Medicinal: Yes
  • Culinary: Yes
  • Ceremonial: No
  • Parts Used: Leaves
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About Bloody Dock

Bloody Dock is an attractive, tap-rooted perennial that offers beautiful red-veined foliage. It is primarily grown for its ornamental and edible values. It fashions a tightly packed rosette of medium green lanceolate leaves that are exquisitely marked with a complex network of red to purple veins. It also produces tiny, star-shaped flowers in the form of panicles in red, burgundy, copper, or brown shades.

Many gardeners recommend using bloody dock edging plants in borders in vegetable or ornamental gardens to contrast with purple foliage or light green plants. It is rich in Vitamin A and C, magnesium, iron, and many other active ingredients that account for its remarkable pharmacological actions. It imparts antiseptic, astringent, antihyperlipidemic, anticancer, and various other medicinal effects. Its leaves are decocted for external preparations to heal wounds, burns, rashes, cuts, insect bites, boils, hemorrhoids, and several other skin diseases. Its root is a great astringent and its infusion is recommended for curing circulatory diseases and heavy bleeding.

Its tender young leaves are eaten as vegetables as the old ones become bitter and tough with time. They taste like spinach with a hint of citrusy lemon. Herbalists prefer to consume it in small amounts as it contains oxalic acid which can lock up the absorption of other nutrients. 


The bloody dock is a low-maintenance plant, best to start in early spring. Directly sow the seeds in the ground with average but well-drained moist soil in full sun to partial shade setting. You can start a bloody dock indoors and can transplant it later in the garden beds when its tender seedling phase has surpassed. 

You can also plant bloody dock around the ponds, in a water garden, or a bog as a marginal plant. For bushier leaves growth, trim the flower stalk and old foliage in spring before the arrival of new foliage. 

Bloody dock seeds take 10-14 days to germinate when they are given an ideal temperature that ranges between 65-75 degrees F. The seedlings turn into beautiful red-veined foliage that complements almost every garden type.

From late spring till early summer, the plant is in bloom, producing tiny hermaphrodite star-shaped flowers that are pollinated by wind. After fertilization, the flowers take up the shades of pale green followed by reddish-brown, and they then turn into dark brown fruits. The seeds can propagate on their own in the wild and can get a bit invasive to keep up with their life cycle rhythm.


Harvest the bloody dock leaves when they are young and tender. As for the root, harvest it in early spring by loosening the soil around it and digging out the whole plant. 

Trim the leaves using small scissors and use the sickle blade to cut the root.

Bloody dock leaves are best used fresh in salads, sandwiches, or soups. They can also be stir-fried or steamed to enjoy their spinach-like taste. They can also be dried in a well-ventilated space, away from the direct sunlight. Its root is also dried (preferably in a dehydrator) after being washed, scrubbed, and chopped into slices to make herbal infusions.



Bloody Dock offers miraculous medicinal benefits and can be transformed into various medicinal preparations to cater to a good load of ailments.

  • Tincture - Dried bloody dock roots are macerated in alcohol for 4 to 6 weeks to yield a tincture.
  • Tea - Fresh bloody dock leaves can be soaked in hot water for 10 to 15 minutes to form bloody dock tea.
  • Decoction - Dried bloody dock root is boiled in water for not more than 2 hours to formulate a decoction.
  • Salve - Dried bloody dock leaves-infused oil is stirred in melted beeswax to formulate a salve.
  • Syrup - Bloody dock root or leaves (separately) can be simmered in a sugar solution to form a bloody dock syrup.
  • Infused oil - Bloody dock leaves are infused in olive oil for 2 to 3 weeks on a sunny windowsill to form an infused oil.