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Indian Rhubarb

Darmera peltata

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Saxifragaceae (Saxifrage)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
120 centimetres tall
Gardens, riversides, waterside, woodland.

Pink, 5 petals
Star-shaped, pink or white flowers. Pollinated by insects.
A capsule.
The leaves are large, glossy and palmately lobed, measuring up to 18 inches across. Long-stalked. Leaves turn red in autumn. Rarely seen in the wild in the UK. Perennial. Garden escape.
Other Names:
Giant Cup, Umbrella Plant.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Darmera peltata is a perennial herb that is native to the western United States, specifically California and Oregon. It is also known as Indian rhubarb or umbrella plant, due to its large, umbrella-shaped leaves. The plant has large, round leaves that are green on top and a deep purple-red on the bottom. The leaves can grow up to 2 feet in diameter. It produces stalks of delicate white flowers in the spring, which give way to small, red berries in the summer. It typically grows in wetland areas, and it is hardy in USDA zones 5-8. It is often grown as an ornamental plant in gardens, and it requires moist soil and partial shade to thrive.


Indian Rhubarb, also known as Darmera peltata, is a unique and interesting plant native to the western regions of North America, including parts of California, Oregon, and Washington. It is a herbaceous perennial plant that is known for its striking foliage and showy, pink, clustered flowers. Indian Rhubarb is a member of the Saxifrage family, which includes a variety of plants with similar characteristics.

Indian Rhubarb is a very hardy plant, able to withstand a range of temperatures and soil types. It grows best in partial shade and moist, rich soil, but can also tolerate drier conditions once established. The plant typically grows up to four feet tall and wide, with large, circular leaves that can measure up to 2 feet across. The leaves are green and glossy, with deeply lobed edges that resemble a maple leaf.

One of the most striking features of Indian Rhubarb is its flowers. In early spring, the plant produces large clusters of bright pink flowers on tall, sturdy stalks that can reach up to three feet in height. The flowers are bell-shaped, with five petals and a yellow center, and attract a variety of pollinators, including bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.

In addition to its ornamental value, Indian Rhubarb also has some medicinal properties. The roots and leaves of the plant contain a compound called emodin, which has been used in traditional medicine to treat a range of ailments, including constipation, diarrhea, and inflammation. However, it is important to note that the plant should not be consumed without proper preparation and guidance from a healthcare professional.

Indian Rhubarb is a great addition to any garden or landscape, providing both beauty and practical uses. Its large size and striking foliage make it a great focal point in a shady corner of the garden or near a water feature. It is also a great choice for a rain garden, as it can tolerate both wet and dry conditions. With its unique features and adaptability, Indian Rhubarb is sure to be a standout in any setting.

Indian Rhubarb is also commonly known as Umbrella Plant due to the shape of its large, circular leaves. It is a plant that spreads through rhizomes, forming large clumps over time. Because of its size, it's important to make sure it has enough space to grow when planting in a garden.

The plant is also fairly low maintenance, requiring only occasional pruning to remove dead or damaged leaves and stalks. It is also resistant to pests and diseases, making it an easy plant to care for.

Indian Rhubarb is a popular choice for water gardens and wetland areas due to its ability to tolerate moist soil. It is an excellent plant for providing natural filtration and helping to prevent erosion along the edges of ponds or streams.

In terms of propagation, Indian Rhubarb can be propagated by division in the spring or fall, as the plant's rhizomes can be separated and replanted. However, it's important to note that it can take a few years for a newly planted Indian Rhubarb to establish itself and start producing flowers.

In some Native American cultures, Indian Rhubarb was traditionally used in various ceremonies, such as the Klamath tribe's First Salmon Ceremony. The plant was believed to have healing properties and was used in traditional medicine for various ailments.

Indian Rhubarb is a fascinating and versatile plant that is sure to make a statement in any garden or landscape. Its beautiful foliage and striking pink flowers make it a great choice for those looking to add some color and texture to their outdoor space. Its adaptability to various growing conditions and low maintenance requirements make it an easy plant to care for.

One interesting fact about Indian Rhubarb is that it is closely related to the edible rhubarb (Rheum rhabarbarum), which is commonly used in cooking and baking. While Indian Rhubarb is not typically consumed due to its bitter taste, it is believed to have similar medicinal properties to its edible counterpart.

Another unique characteristic of Indian Rhubarb is that it is dioecious, meaning that it has separate male and female plants. This is important to note when propagating the plant, as both a male and female plant are needed for pollination and the production of seeds.

The leaves of Indian Rhubarb can also be used in flower arrangements due to their large size and attractive shape. They can provide a unique and eye-catching element to bouquets or centerpieces, especially when combined with the plant's striking flowers.

While Indian Rhubarb is not commonly found in home gardens, it can be seen in public gardens and arboretums throughout its native range in North America. It is a plant that is sure to spark interest and conversation due to its unique characteristics and beauty.

In summary, Indian Rhubarb is a fascinating and versatile plant that offers a variety of benefits and uses. Its striking foliage and showy flowers make it a great addition to any garden, while its medicinal properties and cultural significance add to its value. With its hardiness, adaptability, and low maintenance requirements, Indian Rhubarb is definitely a plant worth considering for those looking to add some unique and interesting elements to their outdoor space.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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