Gunnera manicata

27 May

Gunnera manicata Leaf 05/05/2012, Kew Gardens, London)

Gunnera manicata Leaf 05/05/2012, Kew Gardens, London)

Position: Full sun to shade

Flowering period: Early summer

Soil: Moist, poorly drained

Eventual Height: 2.5m

Eventual Spread: 4m

Hardiness: 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b, 10a, 10a

Family: Gunneraceae

Gunnera manicata (05/05/2012, Kew Gardens, London)

Gunnera manicata (05/05/2012, Kew Gardens, London)

Gunnera manicata is a large herbaceous perennial which forms a spreading clump. Its dark green leaves are palmate, roughly textured and have prickly undersides, deeply ribbed, up to 2m across and are coarsely toothed margins. Its leaves are borne on thick, succulent leaf stalks which grow up to 2.5m long, these have spines which may cause an allergic reaction. Its small reddish flowers are arranged on a large spadix which may be up to 1m tall. Its fruit is dark green, becoming red in autumn. 

Gunnera manicata (30/06/2012, Kew Gardens, London)

Gunnera manicata (30/06/2012, Kew Gardens, London)

Gunnera manicata, commonly known as Giant Gunnera, Chile Rhubarb or Giant Rhubarb, is native to south east Brazil. It was first introduced into  Europe in the 1860’s by J.J Linden. Gunnera manicata is synonymous with  Gunnera brasiliensis.

The etymological root of the binomial name Gunnera is named after Johan Ernst Gunner (1718-1773), a Norwegian botanist and founder of the Royal Norwegian Society. Manicata is from the Latin meaning ‘having long sleeves’, possibly in reference to the hairy ‘trunks’. 

Gunnera manicata Flower Spadix (05/05/2012, Kew Gardens, London)

Gunnera manicata Flower Spadix (05/05/2012, Kew Gardens, London)

The landscape architect may find Gunnera manicata useful as a specimen plant, where space allows,at the edge of ponds or lakes.

Ecologically, Gunnera manicata is attractive to bees and pollinating insects.

The Royal Horticultural Society has given Gunnera manicata their prestigious Award of Garden Merit in 1993.

Gunnera manicata prefers moist, humus rich, fertile, poorly drained soils. It tolerates most pH of soil. It will not tolerate dry soils.

Gunnera manicata requires little maintenance. In the winter in the UK the dead leaves should be left on the plant to protect the crown.

Gunnera manicata Spring (11/03/2012, Kew Gardens, London)

Gunnera manicata Spring (11/03/2012, Kew Gardens, London)

Davis Landscape Architecture

One Response to “Gunnera manicata”

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  1. Following up on those trade show and conference leads | Texere - 19/03/2013

    […] has been so mild that I don’t think I’ve worn a jacket outside in weeks and my prized Gunnera Manicata (aka Audrey II) is already starting to grow rapidly… about a month ahead of […]

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