Gunnera Species, Brazilian Gunnera, Dinosaur Food, Giant Gunnera, Giant Rhubarb

Gunnera manicata

Family: Gunneraceae
Genus: Gunnera (guh-NER-uh) (Info)
Species: manicata (mah-nuh-KAH-tuh) (Info)
Synonym:Gunnera brasiliensis


Tropicals and Tender Perennials

Water Requirements:

Very high moisture needs; suitable for bogs and water gardens

Sun Exposure:

Sun to Partial Shade


Grown for foliage

Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us


6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)

8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)


10-12 ft. (3-3.6 m)


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)

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

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

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


Handling plant may cause skin irritation or allergic reaction

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

Bloom Color:

Chartreuse (yellow-green)


Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Mid Summer

Late Summer/Early Fall

Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

Patent Information:

Unknown - Tell us

Propagation Methods:

By dividing the rootball

By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)

Seed Collecting:

Unknown - Tell us


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Huntsville, Alabama

Arroyo Grande, California

Emerald Lake Hills, California

San Francisco, California

Susanville, California

Woodside, California

Chicago, Illinois

Denham Springs, Louisiana

Mathiston, Mississippi

Olive Branch, Mississippi

Connellys Springs, North Carolina

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Cottage Grove, Oregon

Florence, Oregon(4 reports)

Forest Grove, Oregon


MacMinnville, Oregon

Oregon City, Oregon

Portland, Oregon

Prescott, Oregon

Rainier, Oregon


Salem, Oregon(2 reports)

Troutdale, Oregon

Winston, Oregon

Wood Village, Oregon

Downingtown, Pennsylvania

Blanco, Texas

Midvale, Utah

Arlington, Washington

Arlington Heights, Washington

Belfair, Washington

Ferndale, Washington

Kent, Washington

Oso, Washington

Seattle, Washington

Sequim, Washington

Shoreline, Washington

Smokey Point, Washington

Bruceton Mills, West Virginia

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On May 30, 2013, mervysen from cowichan valley, BC (Zone 6b) wrote:

Wondering if anyone has had any problems with Gunnera Manicata being invasive? I understand that in the UK and in Tofino B.C., they have had problems with Gunnera Tinctoria becoming invasive. I bought a plant, Gunnera Manicata, but am hesitant to plant it as it will be within striking distance of our septic field.
Would appreciate any helpful comments, thanks.


On Apr 26, 2013, rbdev from Vancouver,
Canada wrote:

Started this out in a barrell, and after two years needed to put it into the ground. I have had this plant for around 10 years now.
I live in Canada on the west coast, we do get freezes in December and I have always covered the plant with the leaves. I cut off the full stem, which goes into my compost only using the leaves, and I cut off the seed (flower) and leave that with the plant over the winter. The plant grows well here, needs water during the drier summer days (daily).
I have been told that the plant in my front yard is larger than the ones at Van Deusen Gardens. I have added twice to the soil chicken manure/compost. The height of the plant is close to 12 feet. I am looking to transplant part of it this year as it is getting too large for the area it is in. ... read more


On Mar 23, 2013, ToddinTampa from Brandon, FL wrote:

this is about Gunnera, and someone posted that the chilean gunnera(tinctoria) has small leaf and is a much smaller plant. the giant one is Brazilian Gunnera,(manicata) but NO ONE talks about how it tastes?? it is said to taste like Rhubarb, and if that is the case, i want to grow it some in my backyard, outside of Tampa. I am in 9B, and it gets cold here in the winter time, down to 25F, which is hard to believe by some! plants do freeze out here, like oranges, grapefruit, bananas, and other one which are not cold hardy! we do grow strawberries here, we are the Winter Strawberry Capital of the USA! that's Plant City, Florida, just down the road a piece! lots of veggies grow well here, onions, califlower,celery,squash,peppers,brocolli,tomatoes, and houses!! LOL!! when a field dies out, the... read more


On Mar 14, 2012, AL_GAConnection from Columbus, GA (Zone 8a) wrote:

Recieved 2 rhizomes today from EXCITING GARDENS. I have a boggy area that stays wet most of the Winter, Spring and into the Summer. There is a natural spring nearby so I am hoping I will not have an outrageous water bill this summer - but I am willing! ZONE 8 - Cross your fingers!


On Feb 22, 2012, ItsMe123 from (Zone 6b) wrote:

Buyers watch out for cheats! For some reason garden centres and nurseries all over the world sell Gunnera Tinctoria under the label of Gunnera Manicata. I was cheated this way in Leroy Merlin (will never buy there again). G. Tinctoria is twice smaller than G. Manicata. It's leaves are not as profound in shapes, nor is its overall habit.


On Jan 12, 2011, dwooly2 from Redwood City, CA wrote:

I have maintained this plant in a roll-around wine barrel planter. It thrived for 2 months in Spring. Since then it has seemed rather unhappy in various degrees of sun and shade over the past year. It didn't do well in my greenhouse either. It has grown stalks with platter size leaves that eventually begin dying. I now planted it in a bathtub planter against a fence. I plan to keep it very moist and fed with weak fish emulsion over the winter and after. I read that one can cover the corm with old leaves to protect it from frost in winter. I plan to try this, but don't know if I am supposed to cut the stalks off at the corm or just cut the leaves....HELP



On Jun 1, 2010, bmc1249 from McCool, MS wrote:

I have purchased a rhizome of Great gunnera but I'm not sure how to plant it (on its side or up and down) and how deep to plant it. Need some help, please.


On Apr 13, 2010, Swansea from Downingtown, PA wrote:

This plant grows easily and profusely with little attention in Swansea, Wales where the climate is mild and damp most of the year. In SE Pennsylvania it needs more attention. I failed twice by duplicating the growing location I had seen in Clyne Park in Swansea (damp area in partial shade) and at RHS Wisley (damp area in full sun). A few years ago I was in Amsterdam botanical garden where they were very proud of having finally grown a large stand of this plant. The winters in the Netherlands are cold and damp. Their technique was to grow it at the side of an ornamental pool with continuous moisture in the summer but in the winter they drop the water level and mulch heavily. I do not have a pond but instead of planting at the damp foot of a slope I have moved in up a few feet to dry ground.... read more


On Mar 4, 2007, Lily_love from Central, AL (Zone 7b) wrote:

Not giving up, giving in for I'm going to try it again!

2005 I ordered 'great gunnera' from eBurgess's catalog. The ad. showed an amazing large, exotic looking shrubby plant for folliage. It's listed for zone 7-8, and I live right in the midle of this 2 zones. Well, I failed. First I tried in a Big pot with lots of water; (this time the bulb was quite big; that of a big elephant-ear tuber) the young leaves sprouted, but promptly turned black and withered. So, I rescued to a boggy area, and the bulb-like Great Gunnera was GREAT no longer: it rotted. Now that the grievant process of its loss is subsided. I decided that it's time to try this again. Yesterday my 'bulb' arrived from Inter-State-Nurseries the size is small about that of large egg. I'll keep the bulb/tub... read more


On May 3, 2006, BrazosQueen from San Antonio, TX wrote:

This is my second year for my Gunnera in San Antonio. It is such a magnificent plant. The more water the better. It did well in the shade even when hot.


On Apr 11, 2006, Raper from Seattle, WA wrote:

My wife and I are looking at getting one of these babies for a raised bed that we have next to a water feature in our backyard. Even though this plant thrives off of super moist soil, I heard from a local nursery that it does fine in moderately dry well drained soil as well. Does anybody out there have any experiences to back that up?


On Mar 31, 2006, Adolfi from Fulton, NY wrote:

I'm extremely excited about my new Gunnera. I just don't know why it's leaves are turning brown. I bought it 3 weeks ago with a tiny leaf and now it's growing quickly but the biggest leaf is dying as is the one in the picture I posted. The tiny new leaf also has brown/black dry edges. What am I doing wrong?

I have it in potting soil which one site said is a no-no. They said it'll make the roots rot but most of you seem to say the more water the better. Any suggestions???
PS. It quadrupled in size in 1 week. It's a fun plant!


On Mar 28, 2006, brookingsbiz from Brookings, OR wrote:

Despite what the label might say, most of the plants offered as G. manicata in the U.S. turn out to be G. tinctoria. The second photo from the top submitted by arsenic shows the inflorescence of true G. manicata. Compare it to the inflorescence picture by KMAC which is of G. tinctoria. Note that the inflorescence branches of manicata are longer, thinner and stay green, whereas those of G. tinctoria are shorter and thicker and take on a rusty brown hue.


On Apr 15, 2005, nevadagdn from Sparks, NV (Zone 7a) wrote:

I saw this plant in Harrogate, Yorkshire, UK, growing alongside streams and other bodies of water. It was HUGE--some of the clumps must have been 8 feet high by 12 feet across!


On Oct 18, 2004, FlowrLady from -South Central-, IL (Zone 6a) wrote:

Hi. Pictures of this plan have always fascinated me, so after a lot of searching, I found one. I planted it on the northwest corner of the house in a bed... not near water. It is now October and it has grown to about 5' tall. It has long stems and the leaves are about as big as a meat platter. It probably would have done a lot more for me, but I really forgot about it (I have so much stuff!!). It has grown in the back of the bed, and it looks pretty happy, but it just is not big. I am going to dig it up and bring it inside, I guess, for the winter. Does anyone have a better idea for it? Do you think if I just mulch it it will be okay? I'd rather leave it outside if it will not die.

Thanks for any comments you might have for me.


On Sep 3, 2004, pokerboy from Canberra,
Australia (Zone 8b) wrote:

This plant needs lots of water as it loves to be in a bog garden. Large green leaves resemble sand paper. Can grow very big when it becomes old. pokerboy.


On Jun 6, 2004, vikiwalk from Forest Grove, OR wrote:

I live in Oregon and was given one of these awesome plants as a gift. I have no problems with it as long as I give it LOTS of water. The friend who gave it to me told me to take the cone off before the 1st freeze, put it in a pot with potting soil and let it sit over the winter. By spring I should have new plants. This however, did not work for me. Anyone know if this is accurate and what I may have done wrong? My poor cousin is dying for a start! :) Thanks.


On Mar 9, 2004, irishdlady wrote:

We recently rescued a Gunnera that had been on a hillside without enough water for several years. Before that it had been lovingly watered and pampered by the previous owner for almost 10 years. The corm had 5 arms and was approximately 4 feet from tip to tip. We had to chop it into 6 sections to remove. The largest took two people to lift. The smallest was a little smaller than a bowling ball.

Right now all the pieces are planted alongside our creek at varying levels of moisture. We are hoping most of the pieces survive and shade the water to make it more hospitable for the salmon smolts. If they do well we're going to have the coolest looking swamp in Columbia County.

It moved from Vanouver Wash, to Scappoose Oregon.


On Dec 1, 2003, Waylander wrote:

There are superb specimens at RHS Wisley (UK)


On Sep 28, 2003, tljacks wrote:

Planted in the Everett, Washington area about 3 years back. It consistently grows to over 12 feet with leaves 5.5 feet across adjacent to a lined fish pond but planted in hard pan. Amazing growth never seems to stop. I cut everything down at first freeze and mulch with its leaves and those giant flower pods. Does anyone know any practical uses for this plant? Any hazards? Quite a conversation piece and transplants easily.


On Aug 11, 2003, palmbob from Acton, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:

I hate to say my experience was all positive with this plant since I simply can't grow it here in the heat of So Cal... but if babied along and kept moist, it does survive here. However I love this plant. It can be massive. I saw one in Vancouver that was way over my head. It has very rough and scratchy leaves that can almost take your skin off. Not a plant for a small garden, either. But impressive when done right.


On Jun 10, 2003, Pliney wrote:

I saw gunnera leaves being used to wrap and cook food in Guatemala. Apparently the leaves are not toxic, but they are not really palatable.


On Feb 9, 2003, Greenknee from Chantilly, VA (Zone 6b) wrote:

The most fantastic planting of Gunnera : see Strybing Arboretum, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco. Around a pond, and in a shaded bog they grow to a fantastic size and produce many flower spikes and seeds. Many leaves 6' across.


On Feb 8, 2003, islandlife73 wrote:

I started growing Giant gunneras a few years ago. The original soil was potting soil and fairly dry... The plant never did well in the ground or in a pot... Did a little reseach and found that the plant lives natively in a bog setting. Since the plant is a tuber, much like a rhubarb, I "tore" off a chunk of root and planted in in a pot with a mixture of50% peat and 50% potting soil. Placed the 2 gallon pot with soil and root into a fish pond so that the bottom six inches of the pot was submerged and let it go... The plant went crazy!! Shot up giant leaves like it was going out of style! Happiest little gunnera on the block. ;)