Description: Rhubarb is a herbaceous perennial originating in Asia and other parts of the Orient and now naturalised in many other parts of the world. It is grown for culinary uses, mainly its thick leaf stalks, which are generally cooked with sugar and fruit to produce a sweet condiment. The leaves are slightly toxic and should only be used as mulching material.
Size: Under favourable conditions R. rhabarbarum can grow up to 55 - 70 cm in height, inclusive of leaves.
A young plant.
Conditions: R. rhabarbarum is a fairly resistant crop and in warmer parts of the world can be grown most parts of the year. It prefers a rich, well-drained soil and sunny locations. In colder parts of the world it is usually grown in greenhouses.
Detail of the leaf stalks.
Propagation: R. rhabarbarum spreads via the seeds grown in the flowers which shoot during the second year of its life. Having a rhizome for root structure, it is also possible to grow it from root cuttings.
Close-up of slightly damaged leaf likely due to insects.
When to plant: If grown outdoors and in a colder climate it should be planted in early spring after the last frosts. If warmer conditions are available it can be planted at any time provided no frost will occur.