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River pumpkin

Gunnera perpensa

Wild rhubarb (Eng.), Rivierpampoen (Afr.)

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The river pumpkin is a marsh-plant that can only grow in very wet sites. The leaves of this plant resemble those of a pumpkin, hence its common name. It is important to note that the plants will die back in the cold, winter months, even in the warmest of areas. The flower stalks and petioles as well as the leaf stems are edible and are consumed by native people across the world.

Planning

Difficulty
Moderate
Flowering time
Summer
Fruiting time
Autumn

Harvesting

Pick leaves as needed.

Propagation

Rhizomes
Break off a rhizome with eyes and soon a new leave will emerge.
Division
Divide the clumps as they grow thick.

Special features

Wet sites
Requires a wet, marshy site to grow. It is most commonly found in wetlands and along riverbanks.
Attracts birds
Birds feed on the fleshy, red berries.

Geography

Origin
Southern Africa, Madagascar, New Zealand, Tasmania, Indonesia, the Philippines, Hawaii, Mexico, Central and South America
Natural climate
Tropical and Sub-tropical

Environment

Light
Partial Sun
Soil moisture
Wet
Soil type
Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil PH preference
Neutral
Frost hardiness
Tender

Uses

Medicinal
Indigenous people use the essence extracted from the roots to expel the placenta after birth and to relieve menstrual pains.
Edible
The petioles and flower stalks are eaten raw by the indigenous people of southern Africa. In South America, the native people eat the leaf stalks raw or cooked, similar to rhubarb.

Personality

Family
Gunneraceae
Flower colour
, Pink, Red, Burgandy
Scent
None

Problems

Generally not affected by pests and diseases.

Companion plants

Plant along side marsh plants and water lovers.

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