Rumex pulcher L. - Fiddle Dock

Rumex pulcher plant

Family - Polygonaceae

Stems - Single tp typically multiple from a big taproot, erect, solid, herbaceous but stout, to +/-1m tall, strongly nerved to carinate, densely pubescent (at least in the basal 1/2), mostly glabrous in the inflorescence.

Rumex pulcher stem

Leaves - Alternate, petiolate. Petioles densely pubescent, flat on the adaxial surface, rounded abaxially, 1-6cm long. Blades pubescent below, less so above, oblong to elliptic, cordate at the base (or rounded to truncate in the uppermost leaves), to +15cm long, +7cm broad, with crenulate to crisped margins, the apex somewhat acute. Midrib and lateral veins of the larger leaves often reddish. Ocrea +/-1.5cm long, densely pubescent, greenish-brown.

Rumex pulcher leaves

Rumex pulcher abaxial leaf surfaceAbaxial leaf surface.

Rumex pulcher ocreaOcrea.

Inflorescence - Many thin spreading branches to +/-30cm long, glabrous. Branches typically perpendicular to the main axis of the stem. Whorls of flowers clearly and fairly evenly spaced along the branches of the inflorescence. Each whorl subtended by one bract. Bracts reduced upward, each whorl with +/-10 flowers. Pedicels 1-5mm long, glabrous, jointed in the middle.

Rumex pulcher inflorescenceWhorl of inflorescence.

Flowers - Flowers mostly perfect, 1-2mm long at anthesis, quickly expanding in fruit. Stamens 6. Filaments short, translucent, .2-.8mm long, glabrous. Anthers yellow, to 1.2mm long, .5mm broad. Ovary .7mm long (in flower), green, glabrous, 3-angled. Stigmas 3, translucent, expanded at the apex, .6mm long. Perianth green, glabrous, 3 "sepals" shorter the the 3 inner "petals." All parts of the flower glabrous (or with a few hairs on the outer parts). Margins of the expanded inner perianth parts with +/-5 teeth. Teeth pectinate to 3mm long. Tubercles 1-2 per flower, 1/2 as long as the valve.

Rumex pulcher flowerFlower.

Rumex pulcher fruitMature fruit.

Flowering - April - July.

Habitat - Disturbed sites, railroads, roadsides.

Origin - Native to Europe.

Other info. - This species has been reported from just one Missouri county (St. Louis) and has not been seen in the state since. It is much more common in states to the southeast. The plant can be identified by its densely pubescent (at least basally) stems, its pubescent leaves, its widely spreading inflorescence branches, and its pectinate fruits.

Photographs taken off Lee Rd 51, Auburn, AL., 4-30-06, and off Hwy 26, Seale, AL., 6-4-06.


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