Rhubarb and Cabbage

I know this is a post about plants, but I see these rhubarb and cabbage giants grow every year on our walks in Surrey – and they are, well, kind of Jurassic! See them grow from March to June, even the dogs are impressed!

In march each year these American cabbages (also known as Lysichiton americanus) pop through the earth with their bright yellow spathes, or petals if you like.

American cabbages and Giant rhubarb

Water lovin’ they are doing very well and by april they are growing abundantly.

American cabbages Lysichiton americanus

Poppy our Boston Terrier and Rosie Pug are kindly modelling so you can see how big these growing American skunk plants are. They are actually called skunk plants and they actually do smell woohoo as soon as you come over the hill.

American Cabbages

We are still in April, so they are ‘babies’ still. These plants are attached by rhizomes – I remember that word from school! Here’s something you might not have known – the roots are eaten by bears, and are laxative. Our ‘brown bear’ gives it a miss, thankfully.

American Cabbage plant

Meanwhile, here is the Giant Rhubarb in April (also known as Gunnera Manicata). Native to Brazil but loving our damp environment. Nice something is! This is a young’un too – you can see it’s leaves are just beginning to open. There are spikes on the underside of the leaves.

Gunnera Manicata or Giant Rhubarb

I’ve got a soft spot for this plant, weird I know, but my Grandad used to grow one like it in his garden. The pet dog was buried underneath and I remember being fascinated by it and thinking what if he didn’t like rhubarb…

The Giant Rhubarb growing in April, England

By late April they are starting to increase in size. The leaves of this cabbage taste peppery, but you shouldn’t eat them. Something about a gruesome prickly reaction and worse. My advice, stick with the Savoy…

American cabbage plant

the petals begin to die away and the inner ‘fruit’ becomes more exposed. It’s all a bit phallic and not the prettiest I grant you.

American cabbage plant

It’s now may and we have the help of a rather startled Standard poodle. The plants really are skunky smelling now, but oddly I rather like it (there’s no accounting for some people, I know).

American Skunk Cabbage

The giant rhubarb has now opened it’s leaves. It grows on the Isle of Arran in Scotland where they pick the leaves to use as umbrellas at the Highland Games. There is a guy in Dorset who has grown one with a leaf span of 11ft!

Giant Rhubarb

By the middle of may the American cabbage is in its prime and smelling it’s mighty best and they have grown enormous…

American Skunk Cabbage

American Skunk Cabbage

American Skunk Cabbage

The Rhubarb is also at it’s prime.

Giant Rhubarb, England

Here’s when I’m thinking a Segisaurus might pop through the leaves a la Jurassic era.

Giant Rhubarb in England

Another phallic fruit. It’s one way to get noticed I suppose.

The flower of a Giant Rhubarb in England

One walk as we were passing the cabbages…

Giant American cabbages growing in England

Ferris got a bit lost!

Giant American Cabbages growing in England

Luckily his buddy Sonny was there to guide him out.

Giant American Cabbages growing in England

Now June is here these rhubarb and cabbage giants are showing signs of dying back.

American Cabbages

and being overtaken by other plants. So, we didn’t see any dinosaurs, not even a brown bear, so keeping it real perhaps one of our English frogs could make use of these natural umbrellas.

Giant Rhubarb

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