Prota 2: Vegetables/Légumes
Sp. pl. 1: 336 (1753).
2n = 18
Sorrel, bladder dock, rosy dock (En).
Origin and geographic distribution
In Africa Rumex vesicarius occurs in drier regions from Mauritania and Mali east to Sudan, Ethiopia and Somalia; outside Africa from the Mediterranean east to India. It has occasionally been tried with success in more humid areas, e.g. in Tanzania. In other areas, e.g. Australia, it has become a difficult to eradicate weed after introduction.
In several parts of the Sahara and Sahel regions Rumex vesicarius is eaten as a vegetable, e.g. in Mauritania, Mali and Sudan. In India it is considered a famine food and the leaves are first boiled. It is grazed by livestock.
Annual or perennial, shrubby, rhizomatous herb up to 50 cm tall, strongly branched from the base, with young herbaceous green stems turning brown and woody when older. Leaves alternate, simple; ocrea funnel-shaped, up to 8 mm long; petiole about as long as blade; blade triangular to oblong-triangular, up to 7 cm × 4 cm, cuneate to truncate at base, glabrous but with small warts all over the surface. Inflorescence a dense axillary or terminal panicle. Flowers bisexual or male; tepals 6, inner 3 cordate, c. 3 mm long at flowering, enlarging to 2 cm in fruit and then with conspicuous red reticulate venation, 2 tepals of each flower with tubercles (swollen midvein). Fruit a trigonous nut 3–5 mm long, brown.
Rumex comprises about 200 species, many originating from northern temperate regions.
Rumex vesicarius grows in dry areas among loose stones, on grassy or gravelly slopes, from sea-level up to 1150 m altitude.
Rumex vesicarius is collected from the wild and not cultivated. Sometimes it has become a cumbersome weed.
Genetic resources and breeding
Rumex vesicarius is widespread and not in danger of genetic erosion. A large germplasm collection is maintained at Gatersleben, Germany.
Rumex vesicarius will remain an interesting vegetable for dry areas where other foods are scarce. Research is needed to evaluate its nutritional value.
• Burkill, H.M., 1997. The useful plants of West Tropical Africa. 2nd Edition. Volume 4, Families M–R. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, United Kingdom. 969 pp.
• Hedberg, O., 2000. Polygonaceae. In: Edwards, S., Mesfin Tadesse, Demissew Sebsebe & Hedberg, I. (Editors). Flora of Ethiopia and Eritrea. Volume 2, part 1. Magnoliaceae to Flacourtiaceae. The National Herbarium, Addis Ababa University, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and Department of Systematic Botany, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden. pp. 336–347.
• Thulin, M., 1993. Polygonaceae. In: Thulin, M. (Editor). Flora of Somalia. Volume 1. Pteridophyta; Gymnospermae; Angiospermae (Annonaceae-Fabaceae). Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, United Kingdom. pp. 175–179.
• Rechinger, K.H., 1954. Monograph of the genus Rumex in Africa. Botaniska Notiser 3, supplement 3. 114 pp.
Correct citation of this article:
Jansen, P.C.M., 2004. Rumex vesicarius L. In: Grubben, G.J.H. & Denton, O.A. (Editors). PROTA 2: Vegetables/Légumes. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.