Information on Giant-rhubarb

Common Name: Giant-rhubarb
Scientific Name: Gunnera tinctoria
Irish Name: Gunnaire
Family Group: Gunneraceae
Distribution: View Map (Courtesy of the BSBI)
Flowering Period


Click for list of all flowering by month
Giant-rhubarb could sometimes be confused with:

Giant-rhubarb, Brazilian,

Known to many as Gunnera, this was once a rare and amazing sight. Now this huge perennial has become quite naturalised, particularly in the west of Ireland where its densely-packed inflorescences of 1mm, stalkless flowers are borne in 1m-long, cone-shaped panicles; without petals, they have tiny, reddish-brown sepals. They flower in July and August. The long, stout stems arise from rhizomes. The leaves are 2m-wide, toothed and palmately-lobed and are on stout stalks which have green bristles. They are very quick-growing in spring. This plant favours damp fields, ditches, coastal cliffs, river-banks, derelict gardens and hillsides. It is a perennial, introduced from Chile – also known as Chilean Rhubarb – and it belongs to the Gunneraceae or Giant-rhubarb family.

My first record of seeing this plant was in Derrynane, Co Kerry in 1952 and I photographed it in Lismore, Co Waterford in 2013.

If you are satisfied you have correctly identified this plant, please submit your sighting to the National Biodiversity Data Centre

Giant-rhubarb
Giant-rhubarb

Originally introduced into Ireland as a desirable, architectural, garden plant, Gunnera tinctoria is now recognised as a potentially invasive, colony-forming threat to our native flora. This vigorous plant produces masses of seeds – in excess of 80,000 seeds per seed-head - which are spread by birds. It is also able to reproduce rhizomatically and is therefore extremely difficult to eradicate.