Wild Rhubarb, Canaigre Dock
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.
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