Also known as Red Dock or wild rhubarb has thick almost succulent leaves that grow from 6 inches to 18 inches long. The leaves are for the most part basal meaning at the base of the plant. There is a large central vein that is centered in the lance shaped wavy leaf. There is the occasional short alternate laves attached to the stem of the plant. The stem of the plant is a single strait stem that is red to reddish green in color. The plant will bloom in early spring with a cluster of heart shaped seed pods that can range from pink to red. The root is a tuber, almost yam like and can have from one to over a dozen. These tubers are a very dark red brown and the inner flesh is a lighter orange to a deep brick red.
Canaigre grows from the Colorado desert to the base of the Sangre de Cristo mountains in New Mexico. These are found in dry, sandy soil and sandy washes of high deserts from sea level to around 8,000 feet.
The stems of the leaves as well as the stalk can be cooked and eaten. The root can be used to tan hides to make leather due to its high tannin content. Indians from California to Texas would utilize the root of this plant to make buck skin for their clothing and other necessities.
There are also great medicinal properties attributed to Canaigre. Since the root is so high in tannins it makes a great astringent for cut, scrapes, and burns. This can be done by pulverizing the tuber and applying it directly to the affected area or boiled for a wash. The leaves can be used fresh or dried for tea to treat contact dermatitis, chafing, or hives. It can also be used for soars of the face, neck, and mouth. The seeds can be made into a tea to aid in painful diarrhea or dysentery.
The above photo is an example of the Canaigre. The photo at right shows the blooms of the plant. The photo at left shows the leaves of the plant. This photo was taken before the plant was in bloom.