Top 5 Questions about Rhubarb

Here are the top 5 questions we hear about rhubarb and some links to all things rhubarb.

1. Are rhubarb leaves really poisonous?
Yes, rhubarb leaves are really poisonous.  High levels of oxalates and anthraquinone glycosides that are present in rhubarb leaves are believed to be the culprits.  Check out  The Rhubarb Compendium for more information.
Having confirmed that the leaves are poisonous, let’s keep things in perspective.  You would need to eat about 5 kg or 11 lbs of rhubarb leaves to cause death.  That’s a lot of rhubarb leaves!  Of course, you’d need much less to get a tummy ache. 

In other words, don’t make rhubarb leaf salad for dinner tonight!

2.  Can I put rhubarb leaves in my compost?
Yes, you can compost rhubarb leaves.  Since we don’t eat our compost pile, there is no danger to us.  And, because the components break down so quickly, there’s no danger to the microbes in your compost bin either.  Even when you finally use your compost, the acids will have been decomposed and won’t affect the acidity of your compost.
3.  How do I know when rhubarb is ready to harvest?
Despite what someone may have told you, do not wait until the stalks turn red!  You might be waiting for a long time since not all rhubarb varieties will ever turn completely red.  Instead, rely on the size of your rhubarb.  Start harvesting when stems are about 25 to 40 cm or 10 to 15 inches long.  Check out Purdue University for some more information on rhubarb harvesting.

4.  What’s the proper way to harvest rhubarb?
Our best advice is to pull out the large stalks on the outside of the plant.  Run your hand down the stem until you’re close to the ground then gently pull with a little twist.  The stem should come right out.  Leave at least four or more stems in the middle to ensure further growth.
5.  How much rhubarb in a…?
Here’s our rhubarb conversion chart.  It comes in handy when making all those delicious recipes!
In Metric Measurement
1 bunch = 5-8 stems
5-8 stems = 2.2kg
2.2 kg diced into 1 cm pieces = 875 ml 
In Imperial Measurement
1 bunch = 5-8 stems
5-8 stems = 1 lb
1lb diced into 1/2″ pieces = 3 1/2 cups 
We also like the information provided by Canadian Gardening and the University of Illinois on growing, harvesting and cooking rhubarb.