Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Ornamental Rhubarb
Rheum palmatum

Family: Polygonaceae
Genus: Rheum (REE-um) (Info)
Species: palmatum (pahl-MAY-tum) (Info)

7 members have or want this plant for trade.


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4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)
USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)
USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun
Sun to Partial Shade
Light Shade

Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:
Mid Summer


Other details:
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)
From seed; winter sow in vented containers, coldframe or unheated greenhouse

Seed Collecting:
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds
Wear gloves to protect hands when handling seeds
Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

Click thumbnail
to view:

By Badseed
Thumbnail #1 of Rheum palmatum by Badseed

By Lodewijkp
Thumbnail #2 of Rheum palmatum by Lodewijkp

By altagardener
Thumbnail #3 of Rheum palmatum by altagardener

By PotEmUp
Thumbnail #4 of Rheum palmatum by PotEmUp


2 positives
1 neutral
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive hillfarm On Aug 24, 2011, hillfarm from Quesnel, BC (Zone 4a) wrote:

I grew a number of these from seed this spring. (Jelitto seed.) They were huge seeds, easy to germinate, & they grew quickly. However, at first I thought the seed had been mis-labelled, as seed leaves and young leaves were rounded and looked like regular rhubarb, no sign of the desired "maple-leaf" effect at all! I then purchased a larger plant from a nursery (with lovely cut leaves), and relegated my other "disappointments" to the edge of the nursery garden. Lo & behold, they eventually started to send up serrated leaves, and by mid-summer were indistinguishable from the purchased plant. So I thought I would just mention this, as it would have saved me some disappointment - young foliage is not typical of adult plants - be patient & don't discard your seedlings. By the way, these are very fast growing - foliage of one of this spring's seedlings (planted in good, rich soil, by a pond) is almost 24" wide; plant is 4 ft. tall. Nice exotic effect.

Positive Lodewijkp On May 9, 2008, Lodewijkp from Zwolle
Netherlands (Zone 7a) wrote:

Very Hardy plant.

i planted it out (small plant) while we still had freezes at night , it still grows like mad adding 3 new leaves in 2 weeks.

I have all palmatum varieties and i can say they don't like full sun in very hot weather , partial is better because the plant wil loose all leaves which is quitte a loss.
if you buy a big expensive plant don't plant it in full sun. - partial shade or light shade is better

after a while they wil grow new leaves that can stand against the sun but this will take a while.

it's hard to overwater it but give it a good mulch, it is important to keep the roots cool in a hot climate.

all rheum palmatum varieties are self sowing and tanguticum has red flowers which is nice!

Neutral talinum On Sep 3, 2001, talinum from Kearney, NE (Zone 5a) wrote:

The large basal leaves, 2'-3' wide are dark green and sharply palmately lobed. Tiny flowers are arranged in 2' long panicles that end 7' tall stems.Tall flowering stems rise above the mounded basal leaves.

The species is harder to grow than the edible rhubarb. It requires abundant fertilizer in the spring. Mulch to conserve soil moisture.

The texture of this plant makes it a natural for a bold display in a border, as an accent, or along the edge of water.

Native to China


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

South Portland, Maine
Nacogdoches, Texas
Leesburg, Virginia
Seattle, Washington

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