Wood Dock is like ‘normal Dock’ except it is a bit thinner. It looks like ordinary dock that has suffered because it is growing in the shady conditions of a woodland. To be honest I did not even realise that it was a separate species till some years ago, when I was looking up something about docks and found that there are several species. There are in fact two ‘normal docks’ and they are the broad-leaved dock (Rumex obtusifolius) and the curled dock (R. crispus). Both are common throughout the UK as the true species and as hybrids.
Here is Wood Dock growing in the car park area at Whitestone near Trellech, a good place to set off for a walk with lovely views over the Wye valley, also of course you can observe the wondrous Wood Dock! It flowers a bit later than when this photo was taken which was at the end of May, at this time of year the flowers are still wrapped up in a sheath.
Here it is a bit later when the flowers are out, with the passing of the season it can develop red veins in the leaves and this gives rise to its other common name which is Red veined Dock. You can see here that the stems are quite straight which is diagnostic feature, other docks tend to have slightly ‘zigzagy’ stems.
When I was teaching students ecology at the East Anglian Field Study Centre, Dock was one of the few plants that some of the students knew. This was because of its ability to relieve the stings from stinging nettles. However because they knew that once stung you needed to find a dock leaf, they would invariably refer to the plant as ‘Dock leaf’ and I would invariably say to them ‘No, its just Dock, you don’t call Bluebells, Bluebell leaf or refer to Buttercups as Buttercup leaf’ but did it make any difference… I doubt it.