Rhubarb or Rheum rhabarbarum


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Rhubarb (Rheum rhabarbarum) is a species of plant in the family Polygonaceae. It is a herbaceous perennial growing from short, thick rhizomes. It produces large poisonous leaves that are somewhat triangular, with long fleshy edible stalks and small flowers grouped in large compound leafy greenish-white to rose-red inflorescences.

In culinary use, fresh raw leaf stalks (petioles) are crisp (similar to celery, although they do not share the same family) with a strong, tart taste. Although rhubarb is not a true fruit, in the kitchen it is usually prepared as if it were.  Most commonly, the stalks are cooked with sugar and used in pies, crumbles and other desserts. A number of varieties have been domesticated for human consumption, most of which are recognised as Rheum x hybridum by the Royal Horticultural Society.

Rhubarb contains anthraquinones including rhein, and emodin and their glycosides (e.g. glucorhein), which impart cathartic and laxative properties. It is hence useful as a cathartic in case of constipation.

Scientific classification:
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Order: Caryophyllales
Family: Polygonaceae
Genus: Rheum
Species:R. rhabarbarum
Binomial name: Rheum rhabarbarum


Rhubarb is grown primarily for its fleshy stalks, technically known as petioles. The use of rhubarb stalks as food is a relatively recent innovation. This usage was first recorded in 17th-century England after affordable sugar became available to common people, and reached a peak between the 20th century’s two world wars.

Commonly, it is stewed with sugar or used in pies and desserts, but it can also be put into savory dishes or pickled. Rhubarb can be dehydrated and infused with fruit juice. In most cases, it is infused with strawberry juice to mimic the popular strawberry rhubarb pie.

Rhubarb root produces a rich brown dye similar to walnut husks. It is used in northern regions where walnut trees do not survive.

Rhubarb leaves can be used in honey bee colonies as a mild Varroa-cide, either as crushed leaves or in the form of a tea. Rhubarb tea soaked paper towels/shop towels or crushed leaves are placed above the broodnest. Worker bees immediately begin removing this foreign substance, exposing the colony to oxalic acid in the process. Oxalic acid is toxic to Varroa mites, and mite drops increase while these rhubarb remedies are on the hive.

Folk medicine:

In traditional Chinese medicine, rhubarb roots have been thought of as a laxative for several millennia. Rhubarb also appears in medieval Arabic and European prescriptions. It was one of the first Chinese medicines to be imported to the West from China.

Bibliographic details for “Rhubarb”
Page name: Rhubarb
Author: Wikipedia contributors
Publisher: Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.
Date of last revision: 21 September 2017 18:06 UTC
Date retrieved: 20 October 2017 20:58 UTC
Permanent link: https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Rhubarb&oldid=801763838
Primary contributors: Revision history statistics
Page Version ID: 801763838