Giant rhubarb (Gunnera tinctoria), sometimes referred to as Chilean rhubarb, can be found around coastal cliffs, waterways, roadsides, wet meadows and derelict gardens and fields.
Gunnera tinctoria or giant rhubarb is not related to rhubarb, but as its name implies it is similar in appearance. This is a much larger plant with thorny leaves and stems. This is a large herbaceous plant that forms dense colonies and shades out other plants. This plant is most conspicuous in spring and summer when it can grow up to 2m tall with large 'umbrella' shaped leaves that arise from sturdy stalks or petioles. Gunnera over winters as large buds accumulating on the rhizomes (roots) above the surface, while the leaves die back, exposing these buds.
Giant rhubarb is native to South America but is now invasive in Europe, North America, New Zealand and Australia.
Gunnera reduces the biodiversity value of infested sites. It can lead to the local extinction of some species with the formation of almost monospecific stands of gunnera. Elsewhere, this species has also caused problems by blocking drainage ditches and also access ways for people.
For information on Giant rhubarb, see:
- Identification of the Gunnera species (Biodiversity Ireland)
- Identification Guide for Giant Rhubarbs(NNSS)
- Giant rhubarb (Invasive species Ireland)
For a list of Invasive species, see www.invasivespeciesireland.com