60810+It is not easy to get a pretty picture of rhubarb, Rheum rhabarbarum. The big and sometimes flabby leaves are only impressive to those who know about the succulent petioles (leaf stalks) below. The petioles do not look like much either, until they are cooked into pies or garnet colored preserves. Shabby stalks of tiny flowers rarely bloom, and should get cut out to favor more foliar growth.

Traditional rhubarb stalks are mostly green with a red blush, and a distinctively tart flavor. Some modern varieties with richer red color are not quite as vigorous, and have milder flavor. Varieties with light green petioles are probably the most productive, but are not so richly colored when cooked. Tender young stalks are preferred to firmer mature stalks. Leaves are toxic, so they are not eaten.

Petioles can be harvested as soon as they are big enough in late spring, and as late as autumn. The outer leaves get plucked first, which leaves smaller inner leaves to continue growing. Plucking most of the leaves gets more of the tender inner stalks, but also slows growth so that new stalks may not be ready for a few months. Rhubarb likes rich soil, sunny exposure, and plenty of water.

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10 thoughts on “Rhubarb

    1. The foliage is only toxic if eaten. It is harmless otherwise, even if not composted completely. I sort of miss rhubarb because not many of us grow it anymore. I still grow pups of the same common rhubarb that I got from my great grandfather before I was in kindergarten. I may be getting a modern cutivar for next year. I found it at work and would like to plant it where it can proliferate, even if it is not as good as mine.

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    1. sunbonnets? Now that is a new one.
      We never got strawberries in our rhubarb pie. When I heard of strawberry rhubarb pie in high school. I thought it was odd. I like rhubarb because it is so tart. I would not want anything to dilute the tartness. Plain rhubarb is so rad!

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    1. Or just rhubarb crumble. (Is that like a cobbler?) I like my rhubarb too much to mix it with other fruit. Although, if I froze the rhubarb, I could make a nice rhubarb and quince compote!

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    1. I have grow it all my life, and I still do not know what the season is! I have gotten it when I shouldn’t have, and have taken the old leaves that were left to keep the buds alive. I should probably just grow it and let someone else bring it in.

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    1. Denver? How coincidental. Mine came from the garden of my great grandfather, where it had likely lived since the 1940s. I was told a long time ago that it was sent to him by his uncle who lived in Louisville, outside of Denver. His house is now a museum, the Tomeo House.

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