This architectural giant is quite at home beside the stream.
Growing to 2m in height and sending up large, leathery, heavily veined and sharply toothed leaves on fleshy, prickly stems, Gunnera manicata is one of the largest hardy herbaceous perennials for cultivation outside in the British Isles. Originating from Chile where it grows in moist grasslands, riparian zones and wetlands, it thrives in humus-rich, permanently wet soils, and is often planted alongside streams and ponds. In early summer it produces erect, closely branched conical panicles of minute, green or coppery flowers. In it’s native homeland the young leaf stalks are peeled and eaten in similar fashion to the rhubarb with which we are familiar, and this, and it’s similarity in appearance to rhubarb plants, has given rise to the common name giant rhubarb.