Quick Facts

Quick facts

  • Clustered Dock (Rumex conglomeratus) is a tap-rooted perennial herb from northern Africa, Europe, and western Asia.
  • It is naturalised widely in southern Australia although less aggressive than Curled Dock (Rumex crispus).
  • It has wide-spreading stiff branches with dense flower clusters spread out along them.
  • The fruit (3–sided nut) is surrounded by persistent valves without teeth on their margins.
  • It is an agricultural and environmental weed, best controlled through an integrated management program.

What Does It Look Like?

What is it?

Clustered Dock (Rumex conglomeratus) is a tap-rooted, perennial herb 30–100 cm high, usually branching from below the middle, with widely spreading, stiff branches. It has a rosette of basal leaves at ground-level. These basal leaves and the lowermost stem leaves have a stalk usually as long as the blade. The leaf blade is oblong to narrowly egg-shaped (ovate), about 6 cm long (rarely to 20 cm), and to 35 mm (rarely to 60 mm) wide, flat, with its tip rounded to blunt, and its base slightly rounded or squared off (truncate). The upper stem leaves are much smaller.

The numerous small flowers are in distant, dense clusters spaced widely along the branches; usually each cluster has a leafy bract (but getting much smaller towards the upper end of a branch). Flowers are inconspicuous, on a slender jointed stalk no longer than the flower, and they have 6 greenish perianth segments (commonly called 'valves' in the docks). The fruiting heads become rusty-brown and conspicuous.

Each fruit (a 3–sided nut) is surrounded by 3 persistent, enlarged valves that are 2.2–3.2 mm long, without teeth on their margins but with a big lump 1–2.5 mm wide occupying most of the back of each valve (Lousley & Kent 1981; Wilson 1990; Wilson, submitted).

For further information and assistance with identification of Clustered Dock contact the herbarium in your state or territory.

Flower colour


Growth form (weed type/habit)


Where it currently grows? Preferred habitat

Clustered Dock commonly grows in seasonally moist, over-grazed pastures and disturbed roadsides, also in cultivation paddocks, open forest and rainforest edges. It often occurs on the banks of creeks and streams. (Wilson, submitted; Kodela & Wilson 2007, pers. comm.).

Are there similar species?

Clustered Dock (Rumex conglomeratus) is similar in size and habit to many of the other dock species in Australia. It can be distinguished from the native species easily when in fruit by the untoothed valves that surround the fruit. Curled Dock (Rumex crispus) and Sorrel (Acetosella vulgaris) [as R. acetosella] also have untoothed valves, but they differ in habit, having their branches more or less erect rather than widely spreading as in Clustered Dock. Curled Dock is much taller and stouter than Clustered Dock, while Sorrel is a much shorter and more slender, rhizomatous plant. (Wilson 2007, pers. comm.).

Illustrations showing the differences between the fruiting valves of Rumex species (with Rumex acetosella treated as Acetosella vulgaris in the later publications) are provided by Burbidge & Gray (1979), Lousley & Kent (1981), Stanley & Ross (1983), Chorney (1986), Wilson (1990), Auld & Medd (1992), Cunningham et al. (1992), Walsh (1996), Hussey et al. (1997) and Richardson et al. (2006).

Why Is It A Weed?

What are its impacts?

Agriculture: Clustered Dock can seriously reduce pasture productivity. It contains oxalates and is suspected of poisoning stock although generally levels are unlikely to be high enough to kill stock (Everist 1981; Cunningham et al. 1992).

Native ecosystems: It can impact on biodiversity in native plant communities where it competes for space, light, moisture and nutrients (Wilson, submitted; Wilson 2007, pers. comm.).

How does it spread?

Clustered Dock disperses by seed. The mature fruits are attached to the dried branches by slender jointed stalks and are easily broken off (from mid-summer to winter) when the branches are brushed against by humans, animals or equipment (Wilson 2007, pers. comm.). They may be transported by wind (with the valves acting as sails), mud and water (with the tubercles at the base of the valves acting as flotation chambers) (Parsons & Cuthbertson 2001).

The crown and upper taproot can regenerate from fragments created by cultivation equipment (Parsons & Cuthbertson 2001).

What is its history in Australia?

It is not known exactly how or when Clustered Dock arrived in Australia. The earliest herbarium records date back over a century. It probably came accidentally, possibly as a contaminant of seed or fodder, or in mud attached to equipment (Wilson 2007, pers. comm.).

How To Manage It?

Best practice management

Non-chemical control: Single plants of Clustered Dock can be controlled by deep hoeing or grubbing. For larger infestations, a combination of cultivation and herbicides is effective. Slashing and mowing are not effective.

Chemical control: In pastures, infestation can be reduced by the spray/graze technique (Parsons & Cuthbertson 2001).

Please see the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority for chemical information http://www.apvma.gov.au

Biological control: Clustered Dock has also been recognised as a target for biological control through a cross-jurisdictional government process. This allows activities to be undertaken to develop effective biological controls. However Clustered Dock was not part of the docks biocontrol program which ran from 1982 to 1998 and targeted Swamp Dock (R. brownii), Curled Dock (R. crispus), Broadleaf Dock (R. obtusifolius) and Fiddle Dock (R. pulcher).

For further information on management and control of Clustered Dock see the Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries and Water (2007).

Does it have a biological control agent?


When does it grow? (lifecycle/growth calendar)

Clustered Dock usually starts growing from its underground rootstock in winter, and flowers and fruits by early summer, when the above-ground branches turn brown and die (Wilson, submitted; Wilson 2007, pers. comm.).

Where Is It Found?

Which states and territories is it found?


What areas within states and territories is it found?

Clustered Dock is found in temperate regions of all states – south from Perth to Albany in Western Australia; in eastern Australia south from Yarraman in south-east Queensland to Ross, Tasmania, and west to Eyre Peninsula, South Australia; also on Lord Howe Island (AVH 2007; Wilson, submitted; Wilson 2007, pers. comm.).

Where does it originate?

There are about 200 species in the genus Rumex and nearly all parts of the world have native species. In Australia there are 7 native species and about as many again introduced. Clustered Dock (Rumex conglomeratus) is native to Europe, the Mediterranean region and Central Asia; it is widely introduced elsewhere (Wilson, submitted; Wilson 2007, pers. comm.).

National And State Weed Listings

Is it a Weed of National Significance (WONS)?


Where is it a declared weed?

Not declared in any Australian state or territory.

Government weed strategies and lists – Weeds Australia

Is it on the National Alert List for Environmental Weeds?


Government weed strategies and lists – Weeds Australia

Is it on the Agricultural Sleeper List?


Government weed strategies and lists – Weeds Australia

Names And Taxonomy

Main scientific name

Rumex conglomeratus

Other scientific names (synonyms)?

Rumex sanguineus L. (misapplied by Woolls, W. 1867, Notes on introduced plants occurring in the neighbourhood of Sydney. Journal of the Linnean Society, Botany. 10: 38.)

Does it have other known common name(s)?

Sharp Dock

Blackberry – a community-driven approach in Victoria

Blackberry the weed (Rubus fruticosus aggregate) was first introduced to Australia by European settlers in the mid-1800s as a fruit. It was recognised as a weed by mid-1880s. Blackberry is a serious issue across Australia. It is estimated that blackberry infests approximately 8.8 million hectares of land at an estimated cost of $103 million in annual control and production losses.

Read Case Study