Open the Advanced Search

Brazilian Giant Rhubarb

Gunnera manicata

Please keep in mind that it is illegal to uproot a plant without the landowner's consent and care should be taken at all times not to damage wild plants. Wild plants should never be picked for pleasure and some plants are protected by law.
For more information please download the BSBI Code of Conduct PDF document.


Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Gunneraceae (Gunnera)
Also in this family:
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
6 metres tall
Gardens, riverbanks, riversides, waterside, woodland.

Red, 2 petals
Tiny, reddish-green flowers held inside a branched panicle. The panicle grows to about 1 metre tall.
The fruits are small and spherical in shape.
Enormous, roundish, lobed leaves, sometimes measuring over 2 metres across. The leaves are rough-textured. The stems are spiny.
Other Names:
Chilean Rhubarb, Giant Rhubarb, Prickly Rhubarb.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Gunnera manicata, also known as giant rhubarb, is a large perennial herb native to South America, specifically Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay. It is known for its large, banana-like leaves that can reach up to 9 feet in diameter, and its impressive size, with mature plants reaching up to 20 feet tall. The leaves are green and glossy on top and have a rusty-brown color underneath. It produces large spikes of tiny, greenish-brown flowers during the summer. The plant prefers moist, well-drained soil, and partial to full shade. It is hardy in USDA zones 8-11, and it can be grown as an ornamental plant in gardens and other landscaping projects due to its large size, tropical appearance and it's ability to attract a variety of wildlife.


If you're looking for an exotic and impressive plant to add to your garden, the Brazilian Giant Rhubarb, also known as Gunnera manicata, might be just what you need. This striking plant is native to South America and is known for its huge leaves and unique appearance. In this blog post, we'll explore the history, characteristics, and care requirements of the Brazilian Giant Rhubarb.

History and Origin of Brazilian Giant Rhubarb

The Brazilian Giant Rhubarb is a plant native to Brazil, Colombia, and other parts of South America. It was first introduced to Europe in the early 19th century and quickly gained popularity as a decorative plant in parks and gardens. Today, it can be found in many parts of the world, including North America, Asia, and Europe.

Characteristics of Brazilian Giant Rhubarb

The Brazilian Giant Rhubarb is known for its enormous leaves, which can grow up to six feet in diameter. The leaves are deeply lobed and have a rough, textured surface. The plant's flowers are small and unremarkable, but the leaves are the real showstopper. They grow from thick, fleshy stalks that can reach up to 10 feet in height.

One of the unique features of the Brazilian Giant Rhubarb is its ability to form a pool of water at the base of its leaves. This is thought to help the plant absorb nutrients and moisture from the soil more efficiently. The plant is also known for its high tolerance to wet conditions, which makes it an ideal plant for water gardens.

Care Requirements for Brazilian Giant Rhubarb

If you're considering adding a Brazilian Giant Rhubarb to your garden, there are a few things you should keep in mind. First, this plant needs a lot of space. Its leaves can grow up to six feet in diameter, so you'll need to give it plenty of room to spread out. You should also make sure the soil is well-drained and moist. The plant can tolerate wet conditions, but it doesn't do well in waterlogged soil.

The Brazilian Giant Rhubarb prefers partial shade, so it's a good idea to plant it in an area that gets some sun but is shaded for part of the day. The plant also needs a lot of water, so be sure to keep the soil consistently moist. You may need to water it more frequently during dry spells.

The Brazilian Giant Rhubarb is a fascinating plant that can add a touch of exotic beauty to any garden. Its enormous leaves and unique appearance make it a showstopper, and its high tolerance to wet conditions makes it an ideal plant for water gardens. If you're looking for a low-maintenance, eye-catching plant to add to your collection, the Brazilian Giant Rhubarb might be just what you need.

More Information

In addition to its ornamental value, the Brazilian Giant Rhubarb has a variety of practical uses. The plant's leaves have been used for centuries by indigenous communities in South America to create shelters, umbrellas, and other items. The leaves are also sometimes used to wrap food for cooking or storage.

The Brazilian Giant Rhubarb is also a valuable source of food for some animals, including cows, horses, and goats. The plant is rich in nutrients and is a good source of fiber, making it a nutritious addition to an animal's diet.

When it comes to propagation, the Brazilian Giant Rhubarb can be grown from seed or by division. The plant can be propagated in early spring, and it can take several years for the plant to reach its full size. While the Brazilian Giant Rhubarb is a hardy plant that can survive in a variety of conditions, it is important to protect it from frost during the winter months.

In terms of maintenance, the Brazilian Giant Rhubarb is a relatively low-maintenance plant. While it does require a lot of water, it doesn't need much in the way of fertilizer or pruning. However, it is important to keep an eye out for pests and diseases, as the plant is susceptible to some common garden problems like slugs and snails.

Brazilian Giant Rhubarb is a fascinating plant with a rich history and a variety of uses. Whether you're a gardener looking to add an exotic touch to your garden or someone interested in the practical applications of this unique plant, the Brazilian Giant Rhubarb is definitely worth exploring.

In addition to its striking appearance and practical uses, the Brazilian Giant Rhubarb has also been studied for its medicinal properties. The plant contains compounds that have been found to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which could make it a useful ingredient in herbal remedies.

The Brazilian Giant Rhubarb is also known for its ability to help purify the air. Like other plants, it absorbs carbon dioxide and releases oxygen, but it also has the ability to remove pollutants from the air. This makes it a great choice for indoor spaces or areas with poor air quality.

However, it's worth noting that the Brazilian Giant Rhubarb can be a very invasive plant, particularly in areas with mild climates. Its huge leaves can shade out other plants and its extensive root system can compete with other plants for water and nutrients. For this reason, it's important to keep the plant contained and to avoid planting it near natural areas.

In conclusion, the Brazilian Giant Rhubarb is a unique and fascinating plant that offers a range of benefits, from its striking appearance and practical uses to its medicinal properties and air-purifying abilities. While it's important to take care when planting the Brazilian Giant Rhubarb and to be aware of its potential to be invasive, it can be a great addition to a garden or indoor space.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

Click to open an Interactive Map