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Rheum palmatum - L.                
                 
Common Name Turkey Rhubarb, Chinese Rhubarb - Da Huang
Family Polygonaceae
Synonyms Rheum potaninii, Rheum qinlingense, Rhabarbarum palmatum Moench: Unresolved
Known Hazards The leaves are poisonous[21]. This report probably refers to high levels of oxalic acid found in the leaves. Perfectly safe in moderate quantities, oxalic acid can lock up certain minerals (especially calcium) in the body, leading to nutritional deficiency. Cooking the plant will reduce its content of oxalic acid. People with a tendency to rheumatism, arthritis, gout, kidney stones or hyperacidity should take especial caution if including this plant in their diet since it can aggravate their condition[238]. Laxative action side-effect with long term use may lead to electrolyte imbalances. Increase in aldosterone secretion, passage of albumin and blood in urine and intestinal movement loss [301].
Habitats Scrub and rocky places and by streams, 2500 - 4000 metres. Slopes and valleys at elevations of 1500 - 4400 metres in western and northern China[266].
Range E. Asia - N.W. China in Yunnan, W. Sichuan, E. Xizang and Gansu.
Edibility Rating  
Medicinal Rating  
Care
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun

Summary       

Physical Characteristics       
 icon of manicon of flower
Rheum palmatum is a PERENNIAL growing to 3 m (9ft) by 2 m (6ft).
It is hardy to zone 7. It is in flower from Jun to July, and the seeds ripen from Jul to September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Wind.

USDA hardiness zone : Coming soon


Suitable for: medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in heavy clay soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

Rheum palmatum Turkey Rhubarb, Chinese Rhubarb - Da Huang


Rheum palmatum Turkey Rhubarb, Chinese Rhubarb - Da Huang
   
Habitats       
 Ground Cover; Cultivated Beds;
Edible Uses                                         
Edible Parts: Stem.
Edible Uses:

Leaf stem - raw or cooked[2, 7, 105, 183]. The stem is superior in flavour to the common rhubarb and quite tender[2]. An acid flavour, it is sometimes used as a cooked fruit substitute[K].
Medicinal Uses


Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Anticholesterolemic;  Antiseptic;  Antispasmodic;  Antitumor;  Aperient;  Astringent;  Cholagogue;  Demulcent;  Diuretic;  Homeopathy;  Laxative;  
Purgative;  Stomachic;  Tonic.

Chinese rhubarb, called Da Huang in China, has a long and proven history of herbal usage, its main effect being a positive and balancing effect upon the whole digestive system. It is one of the most widely used herbs in Chinese medicine[238]. It has a safe and gentle action, safe even for children to use[254]. The plant is also part of a North American formula called essiac which is a popular treatment for cancer. Its effectiveness has never been reliably proven or disproven since controlled studies have not been carried out. The other herbs included in the formula are Arctium lappa, Ulmus rubra and Rumex acetosella[254]. The root is anticholesterolemic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, antitumor, aperient, astringent, cholagogue, demulcent, diuretic, laxative, purgative, stomachic and tonic[4, 7, 9, 21, 91, 171, 176, 238]. The roots contain anthraquinones, which have a purgative effect, and also tannins and bitters, which have an opposite astringent effect[244]. When taken in small doses, it acts as an astringent tonic to the digestive system, whilst larger doses act as a mild laxative[232, 244]. The root is taken internally in the treatment of chronic constipation, diarrhoea, liver and gall bladder complaints, haemorrhoids, menstrual problems and skin eruptions due to an accumulation of toxins[238]. This remedy is not prescribed for pregnant or lactating women, nor for patients with intestinal obstruction[238]. Externally, the root is used in the treatment of burns[238]. The roots are harvested in October from plants that are at least six years old, they are then dried for later use[4]. A homeopathic remedy is prepared from the dried root[232]. This is used especially in the treatment of diarrhoea in teething children[232]. The German Commission E Monographs, a therapeutic guide to herbal medicine, approve Rheum palmatum for constipation (see [302] for critics of commission E).
Other Uses
Fungicide;  Insecticide.

An insect spray is made from the leaves[20]. This spray is also said to help prevent clubroot of brassicas[20]. The cultivar 'Atrosanguineum' can be used as a ground cover plant in a sunny position[188]. Other forms can also be used, they are best planted about 1.8 metres apart each way[208].
Cultivation details                                         
Prefers a deep, fertile, moderately heavy, humus rich, moisture retentive, well-drained soil in sun or semi-shade[200]. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Plants can be grown in quite coarse grass, which can be cut annually in the autumn[233]. Hardy to at least -15°c[200]. A very ornamental plant[1], there is at least one named variety[183]. Hybridizes freely with other members of this genus[200]. The sub-species R. palmatum tanguticum is cultivated as a medicinal plant in China[61, 244], it was at one time a popular purgative in Europe[50]. Plants in this genus seem to be immune to the predations of rabbits[233]. Turkish rhubarb is a good companion plant for columbine (Aquilegia spp)[20].
                                                                                 
Propagation                                         
Seed - best sown in autumn in a shaded cold frame[200]. The seed can also be sown in spring in a cold frame. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse or cold frame for their first winter, planting them out in the spring. Division in early spring or autumn[1, 111]. Divide up the rootstock with a sharp spade or knife, making sure that there is at least one growth bud on each division. Larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found that it is better to pot up the smaller divisions and grow them on in light shade in a cold frame until they are well established before planting them out in late spring or early summer.
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Expert comment                                         
 
      
Author                                         
L.
                                                                                 
Botanical References                                         
74200266
                                                                                 
Links / References                                         

  [K] Ken Fern Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.

[1]F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956
Comprehensive listing of species and how to grow them. Somewhat outdated, it has been replaces in 1992 by a new dictionary (see [200]).
[2]Hedrick. U. P. Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World.
Lots of entries, quite a lot of information in most entries and references.
[4]Grieve. A Modern Herbal.
Not so modern (1930's?) but lots of information, mainly temperate plants.
[7]Chiej. R. Encyclopaedia of Medicinal Plants.
Covers plants growing in Europe. Also gives other interesting information on the plants. Good photographs.
[9]Launert. E. Edible and Medicinal Plants.
Covers plants in Europe. a drawing of each plant, quite a bit of interesting information.
[20]Riotte. L. Companion Planting for Successful Gardening.
Fairly good.
[21]Lust. J. The Herb Book.
Lots of information tightly crammed into a fairly small book.
[50]? Flora Europaea
An immense work in 6 volumes (including the index). The standard reference flora for europe, it is very terse though and with very little extra information. Not for the casual reader.
[61]Usher. G. A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man.
Forget the sexist title, this is one of the best books on the subject. Lists a very extensive range of useful plants from around the world with very brief details of the uses. Not for the casual reader.
[91]Zhang Jingwei. Alpine Plants of China.
A lovely book with nice pictures. Gives habitats and some details of plant uses.
[105]Tanaka. T. Tanaka's Cyclopaedia of Edible Plants of the World.
The most comprehensive guide to edible plants I've come across. Only the briefest entry for each species, though, and some of the entries are more than a little dubious. Not for the casual reader.
[111]Sanders. T. W. Popular Hardy Perennials.
A fairly wide range of perennial plants that can be grown in Britain and how to grow them.
[171]Hill. A. F. Economic Botany.
Not very comprehensive, but it is quite readable and goes into some a bit of detail about the plants it does cover.
[176]Yeung. Him-Che. Handbook of Chinese Herbs and Formulas.
An excellent Chinese herbal giving information on over 500 species. Rather technical and probably best suited to the more accomplished user of herbs.
[183]Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants.
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.
[188]Brickell. C. The RHS Gardener's Encyclopedia of Plants and Flowers
Excellent range of photographs, some cultivation details but very little information on plant uses.
[200]Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
[208]Thomas. G. S. Plants for Ground Cover
An excellent detailled book on the subject, very comprehensive.
[232]Castro. M. The Complete Homeopathy Handbook.
A concise beginner's guide to the subject. Very readable.
[233]Thomas. G. S. Perennial Garden Plants
A concise guide to a wide range of perennials. Lots of cultivation guides, very little on plant uses.
[238]Bown. D. Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses.
A very well presented and informative book on herbs from around the globe. Plenty in it for both the casual reader and the serious student. Just one main quibble is the silly way of having two separate entries for each plant.
[244]Phillips. R. & Foy. N. Herbs
Deals with all types of herbs including medicinal, culinary, scented and dye plants. Excellent photographs with quite good information on each plant.
[254]Chevallier. A. The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants
An excellent guide to over 500 of the more well known medicinal herbs from around the world.
[266] Flora of China
On-line version of the Flora - an excellent resource giving basic info on habitat and some uses.
[301]Karalliedde. L. and Gawarammana. I. Traditional Herbal Medicines
A guide to the safer use of herbal medicines.

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