Botanical name: Rumex pulcher
Family name: Polygonaceae
Fiddle dock gets its name from having leaves shaped like a fiddle (or violin). It is a common dock species found throughout New Zealand.
It is probably not quite as common as broad-leaved dock within pastures. However, because it tends to be a bit smaller than many of the other dock species, it is better able to tolerate regular mowing and so is usually the main dock species found in turf.
Under regular mowing, it grows very flat to the ground and has smaller leaves than in a pasture or waste area situation. Within turf, it never really gets an opportunity to set seed as the seed head gets removed by the mower before it has developed very far (unless of course the turf is seldom mowed).
Fiddle dock is a perennial weed with a tap root, and grows as a rosette with its leaves radiating out from a central growing point located at ground level.
As mentioned above, the fiddle-shaped leaves of this species generally make it very distinctive. The image above shows the leaf shape of fiddle dock compared with other common species from the same genus.
Clustered dock leaves can sometimes have slight constrictions part way down their length, but are usually never as pronounced as in fiddle dock. The seedhead of a fiddle dock is similar to the broad-leaved dock with winged fruits that have jagged edges.
The branches of the flower stem in a fiddle dock tend to be more at right angles to the main stem compared to a broad-leaved dock. It starts out green and then becomes a reddish-brown colour with maturity.
In turf, young fiddle dock plants may be susceptible to a mecoprop + ioxynil + bromoxynil mixture (Image) or other herbicide mixtures such as MCPA + mecoprop + dicamba. But once the tap-root system is well established, usually the most effective way of removing the fiddle dock from grass turf is to apply a triclopyr + picloram mixture (Victory Gold).
In pastures, asulam (Asulox) or thifensulfuron (Harmony) are the two selective products most commonly used. In orchards, either use Asulox to spot-spray docks or add fluroxypyr (Solstar) to glyphosate to improve the control by the glyphosate.