Description: Hardy, perennial kitchen garden leaf-vegetable with large, heart-shaped, deep green leaves are waved or undulated on the margins; broad, edible, green and crimson leaf-stalks are sweet and juicy
Habit: Clump-forming herbaceous plant, leaves grow from 1 to 3 feet tall; long-lived
Culture: Prefers deep, rich, evenly moist garden loam and full sun to partial shade
Hardiness: USDA Zones 3 through 9
Thomas Jefferson first planted a row of “rheum undulatum, esculent rhubarb” in his vegetable garden on his April 13th birthday in 1809. He added that “the leaves [are] excellent as Spinach” (Note: rhubarb leaves are now considered poisonous and only the leaf stem should be consumed). In 1811 he planted it in the submural beds below the garden wall. Rhubarb has a long history in cultivation, dating back to 2700 BC in China where it was grown for medicinal purposes. It is believed a Maine gardener first grew it in America between 1790 and 1800. ‘Victoria’ is a cultivated variety that dates to at least the mid-1800s and New England horticulturist Fearing Burr described it in Field and Garden Vegetables of America, 1863.