Giant rhubarb Gunnera manicata

👤 Non-toxic to humans
🐾 Non-toxic to pets
🌸 Not blooming
🍪 Not edible
‍🌱 Hard-care
giant rhubarb


Gunnera manicata, commonly known as giant rhubarb or dinosaur food, is a striking plant known for its large, lush foliage. The leaves are deep green, rough-textured, and have a dramatic, rounded shape with deep lobes. The surface of the leaves has a prominent, vein-like structure that adds to the plant's prehistoric appearance. Each leaf is supported by a sturdy, prickly stem that adds to the overall architectural structure of the plant. The inflorescences appear as cone-like clusters on thick stalks, which stand out amid the foliage. They are made up of tiny flowers that can range from reddish to greenish in color. After the flowering period, these may develop into small, inconspicuous fruit. Overall, the visual impact of giant rhubarb is one of grandeur and robustness, with its large, imposing leaves creating a lush, tropical feel in any space where they are planted. The plant's unique and bold look often becomes a focal point in gardens and landscapes.

Plant Info
Common Problems

About this plant

  • memoNames

    • Family


    • Synonyms

      Giant Rhubarb, Brazilian Giant-Rhubarb, Dinosaur Food, Giant Gunnera.

    • Common names

      Gunnera brasiliensis, Gunnera cordifolia, Gunnera scabra, Gunnera perpensa.

  • skullToxicity

    • To humans

      Giant rhubarb is not known to be toxic to humans. However, as with any plant, individuals may have allergic reactions or sensitivities to it, and it is generally not advisable to ingest parts of ornamental plants due to the potential for unintended effects.

    • To pets

      Giant rhubarb is not commonly listed as a toxic plant to pets. However, the general advice is to prevent pets from ingesting plants that are not intended for consumption to avoid possible gastrointestinal upset or allergic reactions. If a pet does consume giant rhubarb and shows any signs of illness, it is advised to consult a veterinarian.

  • infoCharacteristics

    • Life cycle


    • Foliage type


    • Color of leaves


    • Flower color


    • Height

      8 feet (2.4 meters)

    • Spread

      13 feet (4 meters)

    • Plant type


    • Hardiness zones


    • Native area

      South America


  • money-bagGeneral Benefits

    • Ornamental Value: Gunnera manicata, also known as Giant Rhubarb, has impressive and large foliage that can add a dramatic element to gardens and landscaping projects.
    • Shade Provider: Due to its substantial size, the Gunnera manicata can provide a significant amount of shade in garden areas, creating a cooler microclimate.
    • Water Feature Enhancement: This plant is well-suited for planting near ponds or water features where its size and texture complement the water's surface and provide a tropical look.
    • Erosion Control: The Gunnera manicata has a large root system that can help stabilize soil and prevent erosion near water bodies or in areas with loose soil.
    • Habitat for Wildlife: The dense foliage of the Giant Rhubarb can offer shelter and a habitat for various wildlife species, including birds and beneficial insects.
    • Education and Interest: The unusual size and appearance of Gunnera manicata make it an interesting plant for educational purposes and can spark interest in botany and gardening.

  • medicalMedical Properties

    This plant is not used for medical purposes.

  • windAir-purifying Qualities

    This plant is not specifically known for air purifying qualities.

  • leavesOther Uses

    • Gunnera manicata, commonly known as giant rhubarb, is often used in landscaping to create a bold, tropical effect due to its enormous leaves which can span up to 10 feet.
    • The large, sturdy leaves of giant rhubarb can be used as a natural umbrella or shelter in sudden, light rain showers.
    • In some areas, the hollowed-out leaf stalks of giant rhubarb are used as improvised blowguns or piping for fun by children.
    • The leaves of giant rhubarb are occasionally used as a canvas for outdoor art projects or eco-friendly wrapping material, thanks to their size and texture.
    • Giant rhubarb's large leaves can be laid down as a biodegradable ground cover or weed barrier in gardens and walkways.
    • The plant's dried seed heads can be incorporated into floral arrangements or used as decorative elements in crafts and dried bouquets.
    • During Halloween or themed parties, the unique form of giant rhubarb can serve as a natural decoration to create a prehistoric or Jurassic ambiance.
    • The leaf of the giant rhubarb can be used as a mould for garden paths; when covered with concrete or plaster, the veiny texture leaves an intricate pattern.
    • The plant’s ability to grow in wet conditions makes it useful for controlling soil erosion in boggy or marshy lands.
    • In some cultures, the sap of giant rhubarb is used as a natural water repellent to coat cloth or paper.

Interesting Facts

  • bedFeng Shui

    The Gunnera, or giant rhubarb, is not used in Feng Shui practice.

  • aquariusZodiac Sign Compitability

    The Gunnera, or giant rhubarb, is not used in astrology practice.

  • spiralPlant Symbolism

    • Dominance: Often referred to by its common name, the Giant Rhubarb, Gunnera manicata's massive size symbolizes dominance and a commanding presence in a garden or landscape.
    • Protection: The Giant Rhubarb's large leaves are used in its native habitat to provide shelter, thus symbolizing protection and care.
    • Adaptability: Even though it has its origins in South America, it has been able to adapt to various climates, symbolizing adaptability and resilience.
    • Growth: The Giant Rhubarb showcases rapid and expansive growth, representing personal growth, expansion, and unchecked nature.

Every 7-10 days
500 - 2500 Lux
Every 2-5 years
Not needed
  • water dropWater

    The Giant Rhubarb, commonly known as Gunnera manicata, requires consistent moisture and should be watered deeply. During the growing season, it is crucial to keep the soil evenly moist, so watering once a week with about 1.5 to 2.5 gallons of water per plant is recommended. In hot weather, the plant may need more frequent watering to prevent the soil from drying out, possibly increasing to two to three times per week. During winter, watering should be reduced to when the soil appears dry to the touch as the plant goes dormant.

  • sunLight

    The Giant Rhubarb thrives in partial shade to full sun, but it is essential to protect it from strong midday sun, which can scorch the leaves. A location that receives morning sunlight and afternoon shade, or dappled sunlight throughout the day, is ideal for ensuring healthy growth without excessive stress from intense light.

  • thermometerTemperature

    The Giant Rhubarb prefers a temperature range between 59°F and 79°F and is hardy in USDA zones 7 to 10. It can tolerate brief dips down to 23°F but sustained cold temperatures or hard freezes can damage the plant. The ideal conditions for the Giant Rhubarb include moderate summer temperatures and protection from severe winter cold.

  • scissorsPruning

    Pruning the Giant Rhubarb is essential to remove dead or damaged leaves and to encourage healthy growth. Prune in late winter or early spring before new growth starts, cutting back any old leaves to the ground. Additionally, trimming can be done throughout the growing season to remove any spent or damaged leaf stalks as necessary.

  • broomCleaning

    As needed

  • bambooSoil

    Giant Rhubarb thrives in a rich, organic, and moist soil mix with a mildly acid to neutral pH range of 5.5-7.5. A mix containing garden compost, peat, and loam is beneficial. Good drainage is critical to avoid waterlogging, which can lead to root rot.

  • plantRepotting

    Giant Rhubarb typically doesn't require frequent repotting as it's mostly grown outdoors due to its size. It may only need repotting if grown in a container when it outgrows its current one, possibly every 2-3 years.

  • water dropsHumidity & Misting

    Giant Rhubarb prefers high humidity conditions. Ensuring a local humidity level that approximates a damp, subtropical environment is ideal for healthy growth.

  • pinSuitable locations

    • Indoor

      Indoors, grow Giant Rhubarb in bright, indirect light.

    • Outdoor

      Plant Giant Rhubarb in shade, keep soil moist.

    • Hardiness zone

      7-10 USDA

  • circleLife cycle

    Gunnera manicata, more commonly known as Giant Rhubarb or Dinosaur Food, begins its lifecycle as a seed, germinating in moist soil conditions in the spring. Upon germination, the seedling develops into a juvenile plant with a small rhizome and a few leaves. As the plant matures, it forms a large, creeping rhizome that serves as an energy reserve and anchor, and it produces massive, umbrella-like leaves that can reach several meters in diameter, capturing sunlight for photosynthesis. During the reproductive stage, typically in late spring or early summer, the plant sends up tall, conical flower spikes with small, reddish-green flowers, which are wind or insect-pollinated. After pollination, the flowers develop into small, berry-like fruits that contain numerous seeds, completing the cycle. In colder climates, Giant Rhubarb dies back to the rhizome in autumn and remains dormant during winter, re-emerging in spring.

  • sproutPropogation

    • Propogation time


    • The Giant Rhubarb (Gunnera manicata) is typically propagated through division, which is best done in the spring as the plant emerges from dormancy. This popular method involves carefully lifting the large plant with a spade, ensuring to keep a good amount of root on each division. Fragmenting the rootstock into sections can be done with a sharp knife or a spade, with each piece having at least one bud or eye, which is essential for the development of a new plant. These divisions are then planted directly into the soil in a prepared bed, maintaining the same soil depth as the original plant. It is important to water these new plantings thoroughly to help establish them, ensuring the surrounding soil is kept moist but not waterlogged.

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