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What is Wild Rhubarb?
Is it Edible?


What is Wild Rhubarb?

Is it edible? What is the difference between it and Common Burdock?

Perhaps while walking through natural landscape such as pastures, open woods or roadsides, you have come across what appears to be rhubarb growing "in the wild".

However, rhubarb is not the only plant which is recognized by its large dark-green leaves and greenish-red stalks.

Common burdock, also known as "Wild Rhubarb" is a weed that has a similar appearance to garden varieties of rhubarb.

Its misleading common name and its similar features has been the reason for much confusion.


Wild Rhubarb /Common Burdock (top) and garden Rhubarb (below)

The image above shows the similarities in appearance of Wild Rhubarb (top photo) and garden Rhubarb (bottom photo).







Common burdock belongs to the Composite or Aster Famly (Compositae).

Other names for Common burdock are Burs, Wild burdock, petite bardane, Clotbur, Lesser burdock, rhubarbe sauvage and toques.

To the untrained eye, Common burdock is easily confused with garden varieties of rhubarb.

The edible rhubarb plant, however, belongs to a group of plants of the genus Rheum in the plant family Polygonaceae.


Picture of Wild Rhubarb or BurdockCommon Burdock is also known as "Wild Rhubarb"

This pictures above and below are of Burdock or Wild Rhubarb, NOT edible rhubarb!


Picture of Wild Rhubarb or Burdock Weed

Burdock is an biennial plant that reporduces by seed.

The mature leaves of Burdock are less curly than rhubarb, and the undersides of the leaves are "wooly" or "hairy", unlike rhubarb.

The stalks of Burdock are hollow, while the stalks of rhubarb are solid.

Burdock plants (weeds) can grow to a height of 6 feet, unlike rhubarb plants.







Wild Rhubarb Flowers/Common burdock flowers

Also, Burdock produces purple thistle-like flowers surrounded by hard hooked bristles (see above photo).

These burs (see photo below) easily break off its stalk and are known for sticking to clothes or to animal fur.


Wild Rhubarb/Common Burdock burs


Is Common burdock (Wild Rhubarb) edible?

It is not advisable to eat Common burdock, and it should be considered toxic due to its potential diuretic effects when consumed.




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