Rhubarb Facts

Rhubarb Facts
Rhubarb is herbaceous plant that belongs to the buckwheat family. It originates from Asia, but it can be found all over the world today thanks to Marco Polo who brought this plant to Europe and Ben Franklin, who sent the seed of rhubarb to America. Rhubarb was used in folk medicine much before it became part of human diet. It prefers temperate climate, moderately moist soil and areas that provide plenty of sun. Besides in treatment of various disorders, rhubarb can be used as a source of food, pigments and fibers.
Interesting Rhubarb Facts:
Rhubarb can reach 6 to 10 feet in height. Cultivated varieties are usually smaller.
Rhubarb develops long, thin stalks with rounded ridges on the surface. They grow from short, thick rhizome. Color of the stalks varies from deep red to light green. Flesh is always white-colored. Stalks (petioles) are edible part of rhubarb. Shape of the rhubarb stalks resembles celery.
Each rhubarb stalk ends with large, triangular, drooping leaf with prominent midrib. Unlike stalks, leaves are not edible. They contain high percent of oxalic acid which is toxic for humans.
Rhubarb blooms in summer and produces small greenish-white or red flowers arranged in large clusters. Flowers are designed for pollination by wind. They are also able to perform self-pollination.
Rhubarb stalks are rich source of dietary fibers, vitamin K and C and minerals such as calcium, manganese and potassium.
Even though most people consume rhubarb as a fruit, botanically speaking it belongs to the group of vegetables. Fresh stalks have sour taste and they are usually dipped in sugar before consumption. Color of the stalk determines the taste. Sweeter stalks are more intensely red colored.
Rhubarb is often consumed in combination with strawberries, blueberries and peaches and used for the preparation of various cakes, pies, fruit salads and muffins.
Rhubarb is also known as "pie plant" because it is most commonly used for the preparation of pies.
Rhubarb can be also consumed in the form of jams, jellies, smoothies and wines.
Fibers obtained from rhubarb can be used for the manufacture of paper.
Brown dye isolated from the root of rhubarb can be used for dyeing of hair. Leaves and stalks are source of yellow and red dyes.
Leaves of rhubarb contain substances that repel insects. By boiling the leaves in water, people can produce homemade insecticide that can eliminate pest from the garden.
Rhubarb can be used for the purification of the blood, to induce vomiting (and elimination of toxins), prevent disease of gums and as a cure for the constipation.
Due to numerous, beneficial properties of this plant, rhubarb was more valuable than cinnamon in the 16th century in the France and more expensive than opium in the 17th century in England.
Rhubarb is perennial plant that can survive from 10 to 15 years in the wild.

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