The Giant Rhubarb or Gunnera tinctoria is also known as Chilean Rhubarb, Gunnera chilensis Lam., Gunnera scabra Ruiz, or Gunnera scabra Pav., and Nalca in Chile. It is native to Southern Chile and Argentina. It is not really related to rhubarb. Gunnera tinctoria is part of the Gunneraceae family of plants. From afar it resembles the rhubarb plant.
Gunnera tinctoria grows about 2m or 7ft high. It has large leaves. It is a giant clump-forming herbaceous perennial that looks nice by ponds or edges and borders.
Gunnera tinctoria leaves die down in winter. The leaves are palmate and deeply lobed. The flowers are yellowish-red. They are cone-shaped. Gunnera tinctoria flowers in late spring into summer. They are followed by seeds. Each seedhead can produce up to 80,000 seeds.
Grow Gunnera tinctoria a sheltered location in full sun or partial shade. Plant them in humus-rich, moist soil. They do like a lot of water and boggy ground. Gunnera tinctoria is considered invasive in New Zealand as well as in the European Union. The shade from the leaves prevents other plants to grow.
Nalca or Pangue as it is called in Chile is consumed similarly to rhubarb stalks. Either fresh or as jam. The leaves are used for making Curanto a Chilean dish that has seafood, meat potatoes, and vegetables. It is prepared in a hole in the ground. Stones are heated until they are red are placed at the bottom of the hole. The dish itself has all the ingredients covered in layers separated by Nalca leaves. Nowadays it is prepared in pots and sometimes Nalca is replaced by fig leaves or cabbage.