Plant with mature seed head

3 broad papery wings aound flowers

Mature straw coloured seed head

Close up of mature seed valve

Leaf and purple stem

Stems purplish, leaves grouped and opposite

Tubers and extensive roots uncovered

Young plant with long roots and tuber uncovered

Scientific Name

Acetosa sagittata



Common Names

rambling dock, Turkey rhubarb


South Africa




Distinguishing Characteristics

A herb-like vine either spreading across the ground or ascending. Plants may live 2 or more years. The stems are usually greater than 100cm in length.

Roots are tuberous and are well spaced along rhizomes (underground stems) which can be long and thin or quite thick and tuberous when mature. Mature tubers can be up to about 15 cm in length and look similar to brown parsnips. If trying to remove this plant it is important to dig carefully along the rhizome to locate and remove all tubers.

Aerial stems bear the inflorescence and are smooth and slightly swollen at the base.

Leaves are 2-5 cm wide, alternately arranged in groups along the stem and are arrow head in shape. The leaf base is spear shaped (hastate) and the tip is pointed (acute). Stems may have a purplish colour.

Inflorescence (a group of flowers) is many branched and dense. Each flower is a perianth (calyx and corolla similar) surrounded by 3 broad, papery wings. The seed forms within these wings (3-wing formation is called a valve).

Seed is held in the valves which are 4-7 mm long and 6-9 mm wide. The valves turn pale brown/straw coloured at maturity.

See You Tube video:

Other plants easily confused with this plant

Leaf shape could be confused with Rumex sp. however generally it is a very distinctive plant with its sprawling habit and red tinged stems.

Sources & References

"Plantnet FloraOnline"  (2005)

"Weeds - an illustrated botanical guide to weeds of Australia" by B. A. Auld and R. W. Medd


Prepared by Justin KY Chu, July 2005

Checked by IEWF, Oct 2005

Checked by Barbara Wiecek, Botanic Gardens Trust, Sydney, June 2006