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Rheum australe - D.Don.

Common Name Himalayan Rhubarb
Family Polygonaceae
USDA hardiness 5-9
Known Hazards Although no specific mention has been seen for this species, the leaves of some if not all members of this genus contain significant quantities of oxalic acid and should not be eaten in any quantity. Oxalic acid can lock up certain minerals in the body, especially calcium, leading to nutritional deficiency. The content of oxalic acid will be reduced if the plant is cooked. People with a tendency to rheumatism, arthritis, gout, kidney stones or hyperacidity should take especial caution if including this plant in their diet since it can aggravate their condition[238].
Habitats Open slopes on rocky ground at elvations of 3200 - 4200 metres[51, 272]. Grassy slopes at elevations of 3400 - 4300 metres in Tibet[266].
Range E. Asia - Himalayas.
Edibility Rating    (3 of 5)
Other Uses    (0 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (3 of 5)
Care
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Rheum australe Himalayan Rhubarb


Rheum australe Himalayan Rhubarb

 

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Summary


Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Rheum australe is a PERENNIAL growing to 3 m (9ft) by 1.5 m (5ft).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 6. It is in flower from June to July, and the seeds ripen from July to August. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Wind.
Suitable for: medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in heavy clay soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

Synonyms

R. emodi. Wall.

Habitats

 Cultivated Beds;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Stem.
Edible Uses: Rutin.

Leaf stem - raw or cooked[22, 105, 183]. An excellent flavour that is something like apples[2, 183] (this is likely to be a cooking apple!). The crop is sometimes blanched by excluding light from the growing stems, this produces an almost white stem that is free of fibre, crisp and less acid[2]. This species makes an excellent late crop[2]. The stems can also be made into a preserve or be dried and stored for later use[183]. One report says that the plant contains 0.32% rutin[240]. It does not specify which part of the plant, though it is likely to be the leaves[K].

Medicinal Uses



Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Digestive;  Purgative;  Tonic.

Rhubarb has a long and proven history of herbal usage, its main effect being a positive and balancing effect upon the whole digestive system. It is one of the most widely used herbs in Chinese medicine[238]. The main species used is R. palmatum. Though the chemistry varies slightly, this species is used interchangeably[238]. The root is anticholesterolemic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, antitumor, aperient, astringent, cholagogue, demulcent, diuretic, laxative, purgative, stomachic and tonic[4, 37, 57, 61, 171, 238, 240]. Small doses act as an astringent tonic to the digestive system, whilst larger doses act as a mild laxative[232]. The root is taken internally in the treatment of chronic constipation, diarrhoea, liver and gall bladder complaints, haemorrhoids, menstrual problems and skin eruptions due to an accumulation of toxins[238]. This remedy is not prescribed for pregnant or lactating women, nor for patients with intestinal obstruction[238]. Externally, the root is used in the treatment of burns[238]. The roots are harvested in October from plants that are at least six years old, they are then dried for later use[4]. A homeopathic remedy is prepared from the dried root[232]. This is used especially in the treatment of diarrhoea in teething children[232].

Other Uses

Dye;  Lining.

The leaves can be up to 1 metre in diameter, they are used as a lining material and also to cover and protect fruit in baskets[2, 37]. A bright yellow dye is obtained from the root[272].

Cultivation details

Prefers a deep, fertile, moderately heavy, humus rich, moisture retentive, well-drained soil in sun or semi-shade[200]. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Plants can be grown in quite coarse grass, which can be cut annually in the autumn[233]. Hardy to about -20°c[200]. Plants in this genus seem to be immune to the predations of rabbits[233]. Hybridizes freely with other members of this genus[200]. The root is sold for medicinal purposes in local markets in the Himalayas[46, 61]. Overgathering of this plant from the wild, both for food and for medicine, is becoming a cause of conservation concern[272].

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Propagation

Seed - best sown in autumn in a shaded cold frame[200]. The seed can also be sown in spring in a cold frame. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse or cold frame for their first winter, planting them out in the spring. Division in early spring or autumn[1, 111]. Divide up the rootstock with a sharp spade or knife, making sure that there is at least one growth bud on each division. Larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found that it is better to pot up the smaller divisions and grow them on in light shade in a cold frame until they are well established before planting them out in late spring or early summer.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Jeffersonia diphyllaTwinleaf, Rheumatism Root02
Rheum compactum 20
Rheum coreanum 01
Rheum nobileSikkim Rhubarb32
Rheum officinaleChinese Rhubarb13
Rheum palmatumTurkey Rhubarb, Chinese Rhubarb - Da Huang, Chinese rhubarb35
Rheum palmatum tanguticumDa Huang35
Rheum rhaponticumRhubarb, Garden rhubarb23
Rheum ribes 20
Rheum spiciforme 21
Rheum tataricumTartarian Rhubarb20
Rheum x cultorumRhubarb43

 

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Expert comment

Author

D.Don.

Botanical References

51200266

Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here

Readers comment

Silbhadra Brahma   Tue Mar 22 06:11:14 2005

This plant is also found in the Sangla and Ropa Valley in district Kinnaur,Himachal Pradesh, INDIA. Trditionally local people are used it for curing throat problem, particularly cough. The plant is found about 3200 m above the mean sea level in the dry temperate zone of the State. Vernacular name :Revand chini.

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