BRAZILIAN GIANT RHUBARB

PRICKLY RHUBARB

Gunnera manicata

Giant Rhubarb Family [Gunneraceae]

month8jul month8july month8aug month8sep month8sept

status
statusZalien
flower
flower8green
inner
inner8red
inner
inner8orange
morph
morph8zygo
petals
petalsZ2
type
typeZspiked
stem
stem8round
stem
stem8hollow
stem
stem8spines
sex
sexZbisexual
sex
sexZmale
sex
sexZfemale

14th Sept 2008, Tatton Park, Knutsford, Cheshire. Photo: © Martin Rosenfield
Grows to 1.5m to 2.5m in height. Taller than Chilean Giant Rhubarb (which is less than 1.5m in height) and with broader leaves, up to 2m across. Leaves are palmate with about a dozen toothed lobes.


14th Sept 2008, Tatton Park, Knutsford, Cheshire. Photo: © Martin Rosenfield
Leaves similar to those of Rhubarb (to which it is not related) but much larger.


14th Sept 2008, Tatton Park, Knutsford, Cheshire. Photo: © Martin Rosenfield
Several stout leaf-stalks emerge from near the centre, with one or two thinner flowering stalks (the greenish bottle-brush behind). The reddish pink mass in the centre are the beginnings of next-years shoots.


14th Sept 2008, Tatton Park, Knutsford, Cheshire. Photo: © Martin Rosenfield
The stems may be reddish, and also the tips of the short spines (un-like those of Chilean Giant Rhubarb. The fibrous reddish mass of branched strands is very reminiscent of a (giant version of) Robin's Pincushion.


21st May 2012, a pub garden, Waterloo, Merseyside. Photo: © RWD
Several flowering spikes on a plant in a tub. Here being 3.5x longer than wide, it is less that four-times as long as it is wide, therefore it is Brazilian Giant-rhubarb. The catkin-like panicles usually contain a mixture of male, female and bisexual flowers.


21st May 2012, a pub garden, Waterloo, Merseyside. Photo: © RWD
The spike is composed of dozens of radial spikes.


21st May 2012, a pub garden, Waterloo, Merseyside. Photo: © RWD
With each radial spike containing dozens of red flowers like miniature tomatoes with two pink sprigs atop.


14th Sept 2008, Tatton Park, Knutsford, Cheshire. Photo: © Martin Rosenfield
The central pinkish mass consists of hundreds of fine multiply-branched feather-like' growths not un-like Robin's Pincushion (but much larger).


14th Sept 2008, Tatton Park, Knutsford, Cheshire. Photo: © Martin Rosenfield
The flowering stalks are thinner than those of Chilean Giant Rhubarb and the greenish projections longer and less closely packed.


14th Sept 2008, Tatton Park, Knutsford, Cheshire. Photo: © Martin Rosenfield
The flowers are a maroonish red, now gone, replaced by the small orange seeds, most of which have fallen off.


14th Sept 2008, Tatton Park, Knutsford, Cheshire. Photo: © Martin Rosenfield
Flowering branches curved and reminiscent of those of Perennial Glasswort or Cacti. Flowering stem has smaller 'prickles' than the leaf stem next to it.


14th Sept 2008, Tatton Park, Knutsford, Cheshire. Photo: © Martin Rosenfield
The small orange spheres are seeds.


14th Sept 2008, Tatton Park, Knutsford, Cheshire. Photo: © Martin Rosenfield
The prickles are stiffer than those of Chilean Giant Rhubarb and point the opposite way (downwards rather than upwards). They are short and stubby, but otherwise of a similar shape to Rose thorns.


21st May 2012, a pub garden, Waterloo, Merseyside. Photo: © RWD
At close range the 'thorns' on the main stem have red tips, indicative of Brazilian Giant Rhubarb and not the Chilean Giant Rhubarb.


Not to be semantically confused with : Rhubarb [a plant with similar name]

Easily mistaken for : Chilean Giant Rhubarb (the differences being noted in the photo captions).

The large leaves have some similarities in shape to those of Giant Hogweeed for which it may be mistaken, but the stems of Giant Hogweeed lack the short stubby curved spines.

The leaves bear some some similarities to those of : Butterbur, but are far larger.

It is native to Brazil, but is grown in the UK as a garden plant, mainly for big gardens such as parks, in which setting you are much more likely to see it. When planted in the UK, it does spread a little, but does not behave rampantly like it does in its native country, where in places is out of control! Little else can take root under the darkness cast by its enormous leaves, so it has no competition. The leaf stalks are hollow (on probably both species, so have no diagnostic value). The seeds are fertile but the plant hardly naturalises at all, and if found, is almost certainly planted (whereas Chilean Giant Rhubarb, although similarly often planted, does escape and is naturalized into the wild).


  Gunnera manicata  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Gunneraceae  

Distribution
 family8Giant Rhubarb family8Gunneraceae

 BSBI maps
genus8Gunnera
Gunnera
(Giant-Rhubarbs)

BRAZILIAN GIANT RHUBARB

PRICKLY RHUBARB

Gunnera manicata

Giant Rhubarb Family [Gunneraceae]

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