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 as Gunnera tinctoria is part of the Gunneraceae family of plants. But looking at it from afar it resembles the rhubarb plant. It is a perennial plant that grows about 2m or 7ft high. It has large leaves and it is a giant clump-forming herbaceous perennial that looks nice by ponds or edges and borders.
Gunnera tinctoria leaves die down in winter. They are palmate and deeply lobed. The flowers are yellowish-red, cone-shaped, and appear from late spring into summer. They are followed by seeds, each seedhead can produce up to 80,000 seeds. Plant them in humus-rich, moist soil in a sheltered location in full sun or partial shade. 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 which has seafood, meat potatoes, and vegetables and is prepared in a hole in the ground, stones 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.