Rheum rhabarbarum | Also known as: Garden Rhubarb | Rating: 0 votes | Print / Pdf

We’ve all heard of the Bermuda Triangle but did you know in England there is a rhubarb triangle which refers to three northern towns that force grow rhubarb in sheds where it’s harvested by candlelight!

Rheum rhabarbarum you'll know as rhubarb. With large green leaves and thick fleshy edible red leaf stalks, it's an impressive plant. The leaf stalks are strong tasting and tart, they are usually eaten cooked with plenty of sugar as a dessert, perfect for a rhubarb crumble. Rhubarb has been used as a laxative medicine for thousands of years and is commonly used in Chinese medicine. The leaves are poisonous and should not be eaten.

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Known dangers?
  • yes
Dangers: comments
  • Avoid eating leaves of this plant, or you may have mild stomach upset.
Height [m]
  • 1.2
Spread [m]
  • 1.2
Dominant flower colour
  • White
Flower Fragrance
  • No, neutral please
Flowering seasons
  • Early summer
  • Mid summer
  • Late summer
Foliage in spring
  • Green
Foliage in summer
  • Green
Propagation methods
  • seed
  • division
Growth habit
  • Clump-forming
  • Acidic
  • Neutral
  • Alkaline
Hardiness zone
  • Z5-9
Heat zone
  • H9-1
Winter temperatures [°C]
  • -29 - -1
Heat days
  • 0 - 150
  • well-drained but frequently watered
Soil type
  • sandy
  • Clay
  • chalky
  • loams
Sun requirements
  • Full sun
  • Sheltered
Standard category
  • Flowers & bulbs
  • Perennials
Grown for
  • Attractive flowers and foliage
Creative category
  • Colours
  • Pond plants
Garden type
  • Bog garden
  • Woodland
  • Cottage garden
Garden spaces
  • Flower beds
  • Borders
Gardening expertise
  • intermediate
Time to reach full size
  • 2 to 5 years
6 Related plants



Ornamental garden plants can create something special but it is also worth considering practical plants for their colour and vitality too. A perfect example is Rheum, better known to you and me as Rhubarb. This vegetable has thick, succulent stalks that make fantastic, tangy tarts but with extremely large, triangular-shaped wrinkled leaves, it can also serve a second purpose as groundcover. Depending on the chosen species of this genus, its flowers can range from greenish-white to a deep red, and grow erect from the centre of the foliage, which is often tinged with copper red too. Rhubarb loves moist soil and some pruning, with spent flowering spikes removed.

Rheum palmatum

Chinese Rhubarb

PLANTS Rheum palmatum | -29°C - -1°C beginner Partial shade, Full sun

One of the most spectacular examples of rhubarb is Rheum palmatum, also known as Chinese Rhubarb. What makes it so special is not its large, hand-shaped leaves, which become tinged with purple. It is the plume of scarlet blossoms that grows along erect stalks when flowering. Initially coloured white, it looks as though a small milky green and then scarlet tree is growing from its heart. Like all rhubarbs, it loves very moist soil and partially shaded areas. For pruning, remove the tall stalks after flowering.

Rheum rhaponticum


PLANTS Rheum rhaponticum | -46°C - -1°C intermediate Full sun

Rheum rhaponticum is a great rhubarb for beginners as it’s simple to grow and you're likely to get good results. This hardy perennial can be grown in partial shade or full sun, and will thrive in moist soil conditions. It is ideal for either the veggie patch or an ornamental garden. Rheum’s dark green foliage adds some extra colour to any border or vegetable garden, The edible stems will bring a crimson flash to your garden. Better still, rhaponticum is extremely hardy, and should produce crops year after year. This rhubarb is also swift growing, making it ideal as a starter plant.