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Rheum x cultorum - Thorsrud.&Reis.
Common Name Rhubarb
Family Polygonaceae
USDA hardiness 3-7
Known Hazards The leaves contain high concentrations of oxalic acid[34, 76]. Oxalic acid can lock up certain minerals (especially calcium) in the body, leading to nutritional deficiency. Cooking the plant will reduce the concentration of oxalic acid. Another report says that the leaves have the same concentration of oxalic acid in the stems as they do in the leaves and it is not the oxalic acid that makes them poisonous. It says that any toxic properties of the leaves is more likely to be due to the presence of glycosides[142]. 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].
Habitats Steppe, sparse woods and sandy soils[74].
Range E. Asia - Siberia.
Edibility Rating  
Other Uses  
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating  
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun


Rheum x cultorum Rhubarb

Rheum x cultorum Rhubarb
Physical Characteristics
 icon of manicon of flower
Rheum x cultorum is a PERENNIAL growing to 1.5 m (5ft).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 3. It is in leaf 10-Feb It is in flower in June, and the seeds ripen from Jul to August. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Wind.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.

R. undulatum. L.

 Cultivated Beds;
Edible Uses
Edible Parts: Flowers;  Stem.
Edible Uses: Colouring;  Rutin.

Leaf stem - raw or cooked[1, 2, 46, 105, 200]. An acid taste, it is used as a fruit substitute in spring, usually stewed with sugar and used in pies, jams etc[183]. The juice strained from stewed rhubarb can add colour and flavour to a fruit punch[183]. It is best not to eat large quantities of the stems because of their oxalic acid content - see the notes above on toxicity. Immature flowers - cooked and used like cauliflower[183]. One report says that the plant contains 0.7% rutin[240]. It does not specify which part of the plant, though it is likely to be the leaves[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.

The roots of many members of this genus are used medicinally. Whilst R. palmatum is the main species used in China, we have a report that this species (which has probably been derived from it through cultivation) is used in Korea[279]. The uses of R. palmatum are as follows:- 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].
Other Uses

The leaves can be simmered in hot water to make an insecticide.
Cultivation details
A very easily grown plant, tolerant of considerable neglect, it prefers a deep, fertile, moderately heavy, humus rich, moisture retentive, well-drained soil in sun or semi-shade[200, 264]. It succeeds in most soils provided the drainage is good[200] and will grow in the dappled shade of trees so long as there is sufficient side light[K]. It grows well in heavy clay soils. Tolerates acid conditions but prefers a pH in the range 6.5 to 7[200]. Plants are very cold hardy, tolerating temperatures down to at least -20°c[200]. The plant does not like hot summers, however, and is likely to die in warmer climates[264]. Rhubarb is a long-lived and almost indestructible perennial plant[264]. It is often cultivated for its edible leaf stems, there are many named varieties[74, 183]. Most cultivars produce edible stems from spring to early summer, though 'Glaskin's Perpetual' can be harvested throughout the summer. By digging up the roots in the autumn and exposing them to frost, earlier growth will be initiated. These roots can then be transferred to a cold frame or other protected area where they will produce their edible stems in late winter. It is also possible to produce earlier crops outdoors by covering the plants with a layer of straw and an upturned bucket. This species is probably of hybrid origin, R. rhaponticum x R. palmatum[200]. It hybridizes freely with other members of the genus[200]. Plants in this genus seem to be immune to the predations of rabbits[233].
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. This species is a hybrid and will not necessarily breed true to type from seed. However, this does give the opportunity to look for superior plants from amongst the seedlings. 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.
Other Names
Found In
Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :
Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Jeffersonia diphyllaTwinleaf, Rheumatism Root02
Rheum australeHimalayan Rhubarb33
Rheum compactum 20
Rheum coreanum 01
Rheum nobileSikkim Rhubarb32
Rheum officinaleChinese Rhubarb13
Rheum palmatumTurkey Rhubarb, Chinese Rhubarb - Da Huang, Chinese rhubarb35
Rheum palmatum tanguticumDa Huang35
Rheum rhaponticumRhubarb, Garden rhubarb23
Rheum ribes 20
Rheum spiciforme 21
Rheum tataricumTartarian Rhubarb20


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Readers comment
rabbe   Mon Jan 16 2006
Apparently there are different botanical names for the same species of the common garden rhubarb: Rheum rhaponticum; Rheum x hybridum; Rheum rhabarbarum; Rheum x cultorum

rhubarb background

Duncan   Sun Jun 29 2008
I've just purchase a pot of Rheum Rhabadarum from Dobbies Garden Centre... the label says "Only for decorative purpose, not for consumption". Are there some varieties of Rhubarb that are not edible?
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Subject : Rheum x cultorum  

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