Giant rhubarb

Gunnera tinctoria


Photo credit: ©RPS group Plc
Gunnera tinctoria

  • It is found along coastal cliffs, waterways, roadsides, wet meadows and derelict gardens and fields.

Widely Spread Species:
  • Under Article 19 of Invasive Alien Species Regulation (1143/2014) G. tinctoria has been identified as a Widely Spread Species in Northern Ireland and as such, management measures will be put in place to minimise its impacts.

  • G. tinctoria or giant rhubarb is not related to rhubarb, but as its name implies it is similar in appearance
  • This is a much larger plant with thorny leaves and stems
  • This is a large herbaceous plant that forms dense colonies and shades out other plants
  • This plant is most conspicuous in spring and summer when it can grow up to 2 m tall with large ‘umbrella’ shaped leaves that arise from sturdy stalks or petioles
  • G. tinctoria over winters as large buds accumulating on the rhizomes (roots) above the surface, while the leaves die back, exposing these buds

Origin and Distribution:
  • Native to South America but is now invasive in Europe, North America, New Zealand and Australia.

  • G. tinctoria reduces the biodiversity value of infested sites.
  • It can lead to the local extinction of some species with the formation of almost monospecific stands of G. tinctoria.
  • Elsewhere, this species has also caused problems by blocking drainage ditches and also access ways for people.

How did it get here?
  • The plant arrived in Ireland as an ornamental plant for gardens.

Is it found in Northern Ireland?
  • It is found in Northern Ireland.
  • More distribution information can be seen on NBN Atlas NI.

You can help by reporting any sightings: @ the Centre for Environmental Data & Recording (CEDaR) - Or via the iRecord App.
Prevent Spread:
  • Promote native species and biodiversity - use alternative, native plants.
  • Know what you are buying/growing and source native Irish seed and plants.
  • Do not swap plants and cuttings. Follow control advice and watch out for hitchhikers - inspect new imported purchases for invasive pest and pathogens.
  • Never collect plants from the wild.
  • Safe disposal of plant material and growing media.
  • Record all sightings.

Current Legislative Position (Listed on 03 August 2017) 
  • This species must not intentionally be brought into the Union; kept; bred; transported to, from or within the United Kingdom, unless for the transportation to facilities in the context of eradication; placed on the market; used or exchanged; permitted to reproduce, grown or cultivated; or released into the environment. 
For further queries, you can contact the Invasive Non Native Species (INNS) Team in the Northern Ireland Environment Agency on 028 9056 9558 or Email:

Species Related Files:

Invasive Species Northern Ireland

Invasive Species Northern Ireland