Giant Rhubarb, Chilean Gunnera, Chilean Rhubarb, Dinosaur Food

Gunnera tinctoria

Family: Gunneraceae
Genus: Gunnera (guh-NER-uh) (Info)
Species: tinctoria (tink-TOR-ee-uh) (Info)
Synonym:Gunnera chilensis



Ponds and Aquatics

Foliage Color:


Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Water Requirements:

Very high moisture needs; suitable for bogs and water gardens

Where to Grow:

Suitable for growing in containers


6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)


6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)


USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun


Plant has spines or sharp edges; use extreme caution when handling

Bloom Color:


Bloom Time:

Mid Spring

Late Spring/Early Summer

Mid Summer


Grown for foliage

Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

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 the rootball

Seed Collecting:

Unknown - Tell us


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


Calistoga, California

Clayton, California

Crescent City, California

Emerald Lake Hills, California

Fairfield, California

Fullerton, California

Oceanside, California

San Leandro, California

Solvang, California

Denham Springs, Louisiana

Portland, Oregon

Conway, South Carolina

Artondale, Washington

Belfair, Washington (2 reports)

Bellingham, Washington (2 reports)

Cathcart, Washington

Puyallup, Washington

Quilcene, Washington

Seattle, Washington (2 reports)

Sequim, Washington

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Sep 8, 2015, Jan26 from Sequim, WA wrote:

We are near Discovery Bay, Port Townsend Puget Sound, zones 6 and 7. We have had great luck with this creature. Needs a lot of space, water and partial shade otherwise the leaves will burn. Needs mulch over the winter when it dies back. We've used it's own leaves to cover it. When we expect a colder winter we have put a large plastic tub over the seed pod and take it up in April. Has worked fine.

Natural habitat is a marshy bog on a hillside in Chile.

Don't plant near a pathway or where kids might play - VERY thorny.


On Jul 11, 2014, NWSeattleite from Seattle
United States wrote:

A fantastic plant for the area; always a crowd pleaser! Though the plant is cut down by freezing temperatures with some regularity, it's actually quite hardy, it resprouted vigorously after our recent 16 degree winter. A little tricky to propagate by division, but doable. I was pleasantly surprised this summer to discover it has spread by seed; I found five little guys growing a few yards away in what is probably a more ideal planting location. Looks like I'll never need to buy any more :)


On Jul 1, 2008, palmbob from Acton, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:

love this massive plant, but can't grow it here in inland Southern California- just too hot for it. No idea how to tell this species from Gunnera manicata... seems most who uploaded photos don't either. The photos I uploaded for this one were identified as such by the botanical gardens, but who knows if they know the differences, either. If anyone does, that would be great to add to this site.


On Feb 22, 2006, delosfox from Portland, OR (Zone 8b) wrote:

Does best in partial shade. Mine is wind protected, under a heavily pruned magnolia tree in a peaty, acid soil with lots of leaf mold and organic matter--no alkaline lawn fertilizers, please. I used this to fill a 4' by 6' planting hole and lined it with impermeable pond lining material. When planting it is vital that the root crown is above the soil level and not allowed to sit in standing water or wet soil, as it will ROT. It can get wet but must be allowed to dry off. The beast needs constant moisture and fertilizing. Miracle-Gro is an ineffectual waste of money, and manure--while traditional--wasn't for me. I found that the best way is to use the Laguna 16-9-12 once-a-year fertilizer pond spikes recommended for aquatic plants like water lilies. They're ventilated plastic tubes... read more


On Aug 2, 2005, StarGazey26 from (Zone 10a) wrote:

I love this plant! It is a nice conversation piece, and very easy to grow.. It can also be grown in containers! It does need alot of water, dont let it dry out, fertalize it with a complete fertalizer every other month, to get maximum leaf size! Kinda fast grower. Very nice mixed in with ground cover. I have mine in part sun, and he is doing well, he is also in a pot! Have seen these with leaves up to 8 feet long by 7 feet wide, very very attractive!


On Jan 17, 2005, Ursula from Santiago
Chile (Zone 9b) wrote:

The popular names for this Chilean native plant are Nalca and Pangue. Its natural habitat is on damp or boggy, shady places, always close to water.

It is an herbaceous perennial with rhizomes and reaches 2 to 3 m height. This plant requires full or partial shade, although it can grow with some sun in which case it will not reach its full size.

The leaf-stems are edible. They are mainly consumed as salad ('peeling' the stems like cellery, and cutting in small pices). They have a very nice sour taste.

Propagation: either by division of rhyzomes in early spring or from seeds (stratified) in Autumn, using a mix of 1 portion regular garden soil, one portion compost and one portion previously soaked (24 hours) peat, plus 1/2 portion river sand.<... read more


On Jul 24, 2003, wnstarr from Puyallup, WA (Zone 5a) wrote:

Grows here in the Puget Sound area of Western Washington. Great exotic looking plant, requires lots of water. Will love being planted next to a pond or stream. Will die back to the ground here in the winter, but will quickly be the beauty it is again the next year. Leaves are massive, course textured. Very interesting plant in the landscape.