Friday, April 27, 2012

Rhubarb Wonders

During my last quarter of grad school, I took an undergrad botany class.  Mainly just for the hell of it, but also because I felt like knowing about plants would be helpful in my daily life.  The class turned out to be a little less useful than I thought but I learned some cool stuff.

One of the things that I learned in the class was that most all plants flower.  Whether you can actually see the flower or not, its gotta reproduce in some way or another, the flower being the easiest and most common way.  Throughout my years of gardening, I've noticed that some plants flower and some don't either because the plant is no longer useful once it flowers so we pick it beforehand, or it just doesn't.  The ones that never flowered puzzled me at times, but I never really thought about it.

Some of the ones that I never let flower are onion, carrot, and cabbage.  I do know what those flowers look like though.  But if I asked you what a rhubarb flower looks like, would you be able to say?  I would've had no idea until last week.

It's pretty magnificent.
Shawn was out tending to the chickens when he came rushing back in and beckoned me outside to see "something crazy."  Lo and behold, our rhubarb was flowering.  It kinda looks like a pinkish greenish cauliflower.

We immediately did some research and found that plants around 3 years old flower and it must be cut off quickly if you don't want it affecting yield.  Since we're moving and won't be harvesting any this year, we've left it alone so we can see what happens.  It's cool.  I hope I can dissect the flowers (a bad habit formed from many hours spent in botany lab,) and maybe figure out what a rhubarb seed looks like.  Maybe I'll even plant one to see what happens, though I've read that plants directly from seed are often inferior.

They're kinda pretty.  I wonder if they'll open up?
We are panning on taking some of the rhubarb roots with us to the new place, since we can't imagine a place without it growing in some corner...


  1. My housemate was just telling me today about how the rhubarb plant in our backyard has lived in a total of 4 locations in Seattle, moving from yard to yard as my housemate moved from house to house. You should definitely take some roots with you to your next home!

    And rhubarb flowers ARE pretty. I saw some for the first time this year too!

  2. If you took the class I think you did (ID&Taxonomy) You should already know the family!


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