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Curly dock weed is a perennial weed that is a member of the buckwheat family. It has a characteristic jointed stems, a membranous sheath at the leaf base, and usually swollen nodes. Mature curly dock weeds have stout stems and can grow between 2 to 5 feet (0.6 to 1.5 m) tall. Curly dock weed usually grows in wet areas such as those caused by overwatering or those in low areas with standing water. They are found in weed pastures, hay fields, forages, landscapes, and some agronomic crops.

Flowers of the curly dock weed come out in clusters on the upper portion of the elongating stem, consisting of greenish sepals that become reddish-brown with age.