Broad-leaved dock

Common Name 

  • Broad-leaved dock

Latin Name 

  • Rumex Obtusifolius

Habitat & Distribution

  • Broad-leaved dock can be found throughout the UK, it is a native species commonly found on waste grounds, farmland, hedgerows, road side verges, woodlands and gardens and thrives in high nitrogen environments.

What’s the problem?

  • Broad-leaved dock can quickly spread creating dense stands which outcompete other species.
  • The species is slightly poisonous and can cause sickness in livestock, the milky sap can also cause mild dermatitis.
  • Each plant can produce 60,000 seeds a year, which can survive for up to 50 years in the soil making complete eradication difficult.
  • Deep taproots enable the plant to establish and thrive in a range of environments, fragments of taproots are able to produce new plants.
  • Broad-leaved dock is an injurious weed species and is listed under the Weeds Act 1959.

What are the legal implications?

  • The Weeds Act 1959 aims to prevent the spread of listed species onto private land (Ragwort, Broad-leaved dock, Curled dock, Creeping thistle, and Spear thistle).
  • The Act allows for powers of enforcement requiring land occupiers to take action to control infestations to prevent the spread of injurious weeds onto neighbouring land.
  • Failure to comply with enforcements can result in penalties and convictions.

In detail

  • Broad-leaved dock spreads via seeds which are dispersed by wind, water, animals and machinery and has the potential to spread large distances.
  • The plants have deep taproots which can grow to depths of 1.5m. Buds on pieces of broken taproot can create new plants spreading infestations.
  • Broad-leaved dock can hybridise with Curled dock, another injurious weed species.


  • Broad-leaved dock is a tall perennial species which typically grows to 1m in height.
  • It forms large oval leaves up to 25cm long
  • Flower spikes appear from June to October and have numerous clusters of reddish-brown flowers, these spikes die down once seed is produced.
  • Seeds have a toothed wing structure which aids dispersal.

Control methods

  • Chemical Control

    Broad-leaved dock can be successfully treated with herbicide, applications are most effective whilst the plant is actively growing (April – October). Established infestations will require treatment over a number of years.
  • If you have concerns over Broad-leaved dock on your land, if you are unsure of your legal responsibilities, or, if you would like a quotation for control, please contact one of our specialist surveyors. Treatment costs start from £380.00 + VAT.