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Tasty Rhubarb, an Edible and Ornamental Plant

Virtues: We love rhubarb for its tangy yet sweet, crisp flavor, the perfect companion for strawberries or the main ingredient in pies, jams and jellies. With striking pinkish red, sometimes green, celery-like stalks and lush green foliage, these tasty edibles also offer a touch of vibrant beauty in the garden.


Common name: Rhubarb

Botanical name: Many classifications under Rheum

Flowers: When grown as an edible, rhubarb's tiny yellow flowers and stems should be removed to encourage more foliage growth.

Foliage: Crisp, delicious, thick leaf stalks, or petioles, grow in lively shades of pinkish red or green, usually 18 inches in length. Large, poisonous, rich-green leaves grow on top of the edible stalks. Thes flavorful stalks offer scrumptious enhancements in pies, jams, sauces and other recipes.

Habit: Rhubarb is a perennial that can grow 2 to 4 feet tall with a similar spread.

Season: These are cool-season perennials and are often grown in northern areas where their best seasons are spring and fall/early winter. (They can be forced through winter as well and can grow in colder climates during summer.)

Origin: China

How to grow Rhubarb: These tangy and hardy veggies thrive when grown in rich, well-drained soil. They should not be harvested the first year and mulch should be added in winter. Harvest after 2 to 3 years when the stalks are around 1 to 2 inches in width. Be sure to eat only the leaf stalks, and not the leafy portion, which is poisonous. They prefer regular watering and cooler climates. Rhubarbs are most successful in USDA Zones 3–8.

Image: RhubarbFarmer
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