Originates from north and eastern Asia and Siberia. Was cultivated in China as far back as 2700BC for medicinal uses i.e. Laxative, reduce fever and to cleanse the body. In the 18th century it became a food.
Adds interest to a flower garden with its large leaves and red stems and/or a feature in the kitchen garden.
Lots of fibre hence the laxative effect also Vitamin C and K, potassium and manganese. Seems to stimulate the liver, assisting in regulation of the absorption of fats. Low in calories.
How to Eat
Young stems can be eaten raw dipped in sugar. Otherwise cooked with sugar, stewed and made into crumbles, pies and fools. Goes well with ginger and strawberries. Early season unopened flowers are cooked in Asia as a delicacy. LEAVES ARE POISONOUS.
Many stems to each rhizome. Only a third should be harvested each year. Will produce for more than 5 years.
Sun or semi shade.
Not a problem because Rhubarb is so low growing.
Frost tolerant. Growth suppressed if temperatures go above 30°C. Needs winter temperature of below 4°C to stimulate growth in spring.
Will grow in most types of soil but likes plenty of organic matter. Is fairly acid soil tolerant but grows best in more neutral soils.
Nitrogen fertiliser in spring and/or regular applications of organic mulch.
Remove old stems to keep plant clean. Remove all weeds around base.
Keep dock plants at bay as they encourage the Rhubarb beetle which will bore into stalks.
Do not grow well over 30°C Likes a chilling below 4°C