The World of Rhubarb Look-Alikes: A Guide to Similar Plants

Are you familiar with rhubarb? Its distinctive appearance, with its vibrant red stalks and hearty leaves, makes it easily recognizable. But did you know that there are several plants that resemble rhubarb? These look-alikes may have similar leaves and stems, but they have their own unique characteristics and requirements. In this article, we’ll explore a diverse range of plants that bear a striking resemblance to rhubarb but have their own distinct qualities.

Exploring the Rhubarb Doppelgängers

These plants may fool you at first glance, with their stems of red hues and towering heights reminiscent of rhubarb. However, it’s important to note that their similarities end there. Let’s take a closer look at these rhubarb look-alikes and discover what sets them apart.

1. Arctium Minus

Native to Asia and Europe, Arctium Minus is often mistaken for wild rhubarb. Found in various locations like pastures, roadsides, and open woods, this biennial plant can reach heights of up to six feet. Its heart-shaped leaves, with their woolly undersides, closely resemble those of rhubarb. However, Arctium Minus is not edible and can even cause allergic reactions or irritations on the skin.

Arctium Minus

2. Burdock Weed

Belonging to the Asteraceae family, Burdock Weed is a perennial plant native to Asia and Europe. It shares a close resemblance to rhubarb, with its large, dark green leaves growing up to two feet tall. Unlike its look-alike, Burdock Weed is not only edible but also has medicinal uses. Its stems carry a maroon hue, distinguishing it from the true rhubarb.

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Burdock Weed

3. Indian Rhubarb

Despite its name, Indian Rhubarb is not a version of rhubarb originating from India. This herbaceous perennial, also known as umbrella rhubarb, belongs to the saxifrage family. Growing up to six feet tall, it boasts glossy green leaves with prominent veins, which develop a rich color in the autumn. Indian Rhubarb’s fleshy red roots have a tart flavor similar to rhubarb.

Indian Rhubarb

4. Monk’s Rhubarb

Monk’s Rhubarb, a perennial herb in the buckwheat family, can reach heights of up to four feet. Native to Western Asia and Europe, this plant features large ovate-round leaves with stout leaf stalks and irregular margins. Its deep green leaves and burgundy stems bear a resemblance to rhubarb. While lesser-known, Monk’s Rhubarb is also edible and has medicinal uses.

Monk's Rhubarb

5. Greater Burdock

Belonging to the Aster family, Greater Burdock is an attractive plant with large dark green leaves and violet-colored flowers. Reaching heights of nearly 10 feet, it loves to invade areas with high nitrogen levels. It is widely recognized in the wild and is also grown in gardens for its edible roots. Unlike rhubarb, Greater Burdock’s stems carry a violet hue.

Greater Burdock

6. Beetroot

Often mistaken for rhubarb due to its thick stalks, Beetroot is a root vegetable closely related to Swiss chard and spinach. With its deep red leaves and stems, Beetroot adds a vibrant touch to any garden. Its flowers are even edible and make a delightful addition to salads. While it may resemble rhubarb, Beetroot is primarily known for its culinary uses.

Beetroot

Distinctive Alternatives Worth Exploring

Apart from the above plants, there are several other rhubarb look-alikes that are equally intriguing. These include Swiss Chard, Canaigre Dock, Brazilian Giant Rhubarb, Japanese Knotweed, Bog Rhubarb, Prickly Rhubarb, Pokeweed, Poison Hemlock, Skunk Cabbage, Chilean Rhubarb, Buckthorn, Nightshade, and Dogbane. Each possesses its own unique characteristics and adds diversity to the plant world.

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Conclusion

While these plants may resemble rhubarb in appearance, they should not be mistaken for the real deal. Rhubarb remains a beloved pie ingredient, cherished throughout history. From the poisonous to the edible, the abundant variety of rhubarb look-alikes adds a touch of intrigue to our gardens. So, before you grow a plant that looks like rhubarb, make sure you are cultivating the authentic one!

Remember, for all your rhubarb needs, visit the Ames Farm Center.