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Rumex L.

Sp.Pl. 2:333 (1753)
Name Status

Scientific Description

Common name. Docks. Family Polygonaceae.

Habit and leaf form. Herbs, or herbaceous climbers, or shrubs (rarely). Herbs perennial, or annual (rarely); plants with a basal concentration of leaves, or with neither basal nor terminal concentrations of leaves. Self supporting, or climbing; when climbing, stem twiners. Hydrophytic, or helophytic to xerophytic. Heterophyllous (often basal leaves differing from those near the inflorescences). Leaves alternate; spiral; ‘herbaceous’; petiolate, or subsessile; sheathing. Leaf sheaths not tubular; with free margins. Leaves gland-dotted, or not gland-dotted (?); simple; sometimes almost peltate, or not peltate (?); epulvinate. Leaf blades entire; pinnately veined; cross-venulate; cordate, or hastate, or sagittate, or attenuate at the base, or cuneate at the base. Leaves with stipules. Stipules intrapetiolar; concrescent; ochreate; scaly. Leaf blade margins entire (or crisped), or crenate, or ?; flat, or revolute (?). Leaves without a persistent basal meristem. Stem anatomy. Nodes penta-lacunar to multilacunar (?). Secondary thickening absent, or developing from a conventional cambial ring, or anomalous (?).

Reproductive type, pollination. Fertile flowers hermaphrodite, or functionally male and functionally female, or hermaphrodite, functionally male, and functionally female. Unisexual flowers present, or absent. Plants hermaphrodite, or polygamomonoecious, or dioecious. Anemophilous, or entomophilous (?).

Inflorescence and flower features. Flowers aggregated in ‘inflorescences’; in whorl-like clusters, forming racemes or panicles. Inflorescences terminal, or axillary (?); with involucral bracts, or without involucral bracts (?). Flowers small; regular; 3 merous; cyclic. Free hypanthium present, or absent (?). Hypogynous disk present (or nectaries present between the androecial members), or ?; annular. Perianth ambiguously with distinct calyx and corolla, or sepaline, or petaline, or of ‘tepals’ (depending on interpretation); 6; 2 -whorled; free to joined (?); different in the two whorls (outer whorl small and thin, the 3 inner whorl members (valves) enlarged); green, or red; fleshy, or non-fleshy (?); persistent; accrescent (often), or non-accrescent. Fertile stamens present, or absent (female flowers). Androecium 6. Androecial members branched, or unbranched (?); free of the perianth, or adnate (usually more or less perigynous ?); all equal, or markedly unequal (?); free of one another, or coherent (filaments basally connate ?); 2 -whorled (3+3). Androecium exclusively of fertile stamens. Stamens 6. Anthers dorsifixed, or basifixed (?); versatile, or non-versatile (?); dehiscing via longitudinal slits; introrse, or extrorse and introrse, or latrorse (?); tetrasporangiate. Fertile gynoecium present, or absent (male flowers). Gynoecium 3 carpelled. The pistil 1 celled. Carpels isomerous with the perianth. Gynoecium syncarpous; synovarious to synstylovarious (?); superior. Ovary unilocular; 1 locular. Locules secondarily divided by ‘false septa’ (or incompletely trilocular by false septa), or without ‘false septa’ (?). The ‘odd’ carpel posterior, or ?. Gynoecium stylate (sometimes only shortly). Styles 3; free to partially joined; apical. Stigmas 3; large, fimbriate or penicillate; dry type; papillate, or non-papillate (?); Group II type. Placentation basal. Ovules in the single cavity 1; funicled, or sessile (?); ascending; non-arillate; orthotropous to anatropous (?).

Fruit and seed features. Fruit non-fleshy; indehiscent; achene-like, or a nut (trigonous, enclosed in the three stiff, dry inner segments or valves, which sometimes develop protuberances or marginal teeth); 1 seeded. Seeds endospermic. Endosperm ruminate, or not ruminate (?); oily. Perisperm present to absent (‘more or less absent' ?). Seeds with starch. Cotyledons 2. Embryo straight to curved. Seedling. Germination phanerocotylar.

Physiology, biochemistry. Aluminium accumulation not found. Plants accumulating free oxalates. Photosynthetic pathway: C3 and C4.

Geography, cytology, number of species. Native of Australia. Not endemic to Australia. Australian states and territories: Western Australia, South Australia, Northern Territory, Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Australian Capital Territory, and Tasmania. Eremaean Botanical Province, or South-West Botanical Province. N = 7, 8, 9, 10. A genus of 200 species.

Etymology. Based on the Latin word rumex, used for these and other plants.

H.R. Coleman, 8 September 2016

Taxonomic Literature

  • Wheeler, Judy; Marchant, Neville; Lewington, Margaret; Graham, Lorraine 2002. Flora of the south west, Bunbury, Augusta, Denmark. Volume 2, dicotyledons. Australian Biological Resources Study.. Canberra..
  • Blackall, William E.; Grieve, Brian J. 1988. How to know Western Australian wildflowers : a key to the flora of the extratropical regions of Western Australia. Part I : Dicotyledons (Casuarinaceae to Chenopodiaceae). University of W.A. Press.. [Perth]..
  • Marchant, N. G.; Wheeler, J. R.; Rye, B. L.; Bennett, E. M.; Lander, N. S.; Macfarlane, T. D.; Western Australian Herbarium 1987. Flora of the Perth region. Part one. Western Australian Herbarium.. [Perth]..