Wild Rhubarb, Canaigre Dock

Rumex hymenosepalus

Wild Rhubarb

Color: Pink

Common name: Wild rhubarb, Canaigre Dock

Latin name: Rumex hymenosepalus


Height: 2-4 feet

Description: Rumex hymenosepalus is a perennial that grows conspicuously from a cluster of tuber-like roots. The stem is stout, ± fleshy and smooth. The 6-parted flowers grow in a dense cluster.

Leaf: The 6-24 inch leaf is waxy and ridged so that water from light, misty rain collects along a central vein and filters down to the taproot. Scientists call this process the plant's method of "self-irrigating."

Range: Southwestern California, Mojave Desert

Habitat: Dry sandy places

Elevation: 0–2000 m.

Flowering time: Jan–May

Notes: Rumex hymenosepalus has been cultivated in the southwestern United States as the roots are a good source of tannin, for use in leather tanning. The tissues of canaigre dock, a southwest desert native plant used to make yellow, gray or green dye, and widely noted for its medicinal, edible, and social uses, contain toxic oxalate. The needlelike crystals produce pain and edema when touched by lips, tongue or skin. R. hymenosepalus is a dicot that is native to California and is also found outside of California, but is confined to western North America. Distribution outside California: to Wyoming, Texas, Baja California. This photo was taken on March 19, 2005 north of Barstow, San Bernardino County, California.

We have an online wildflower field guide that is designed to help you identify desert wildflowers by color, scientific name, region and common name. The pictures are sized to work on the iPod, iPhone, iPad and similar devices. With your iPod or phone you will easily be able to identify wildflowers while in the desert. Links for downloads are on the bottom of the Wildflower Field Guide page.

Photo tips: Most digital point-and-shoot cameras have a macro function - usually symbolized by the icon of a little flower. When you turn on that function, you allow your camera to get closer to the subject, looking into a flower for example. Or getting up close and personal with a bug. More on desert photography.

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