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Weird plant life – No, if you are gardeners or farmers you will probably
recognizethat the shoots coming out of the ground with this fantastic red
color are rhubarb.
Michigan is one of the largest producers of rhubarb and it is even
forced in greenhouses here for winter harvesting. Some say that
Michigan and Canadian rhubarb tastes the best.
The rhubarb plant or “pie plant” as it is also known, can be
harvested all summer. The plant is originally from Asia, a relative
of the buckwheat familyand is loved by Japanese beetles who will literally
strip the leaves bare, if allowedto feast. Ironically, the leaves are
poisonous to humans, so be sure to just eat the stalks.
The rhubarb plant is also a heavy feeder and will thrive with lots of
compost orcow manure dressing in the spring and fall. The flower stalks
should be removedif you plan on harvesting.
We love rhubarb pie, warm rhubarb sauce, rhubarb bars, and it also
makes a great quickbread for breakfast. It is a snap to freeze
[just wash, cut up and put it into freezer bags].
The recipes to use rhubarb are many and varied including jam, wine,
drinks,salads. The most common companion in cooking is the strawberry.
Rhubarb is loaded with vitamin C and fiber.
It is so popular that there are 10 Rhubarb Festivals around the
world according to the Rhubarb Compendium.
And Wikipedia toasts rhubarb pie in our culture:
“Bebop-a-reebop Rhubarb Pie and Bebop-a-reebop
Frozen Rhubarb Pie Filling are frequent fictional sponsors
of A PrairieHome Companion.
Children’s song artist Laurie Berkner sings about the
dessertin “Rhubarb Pie (Hot Commodity)”.
In the “Weird Al” Yankovic song, “The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota,”
“Mama’s homemade rhubarb pie” is one of the things the family takes with
them on their trip.”
Since rhubarb is a large, long living perennial here in Kent County
Michigan, it can be used in the landscape as a decorative plant.
Landscape plants that double as food are green sustainablilty
at its best.
Rhubarb will be on the local menus here in Grand Rapids, soon.
Copyright by Bonnie Westbrook 2008
photo by Bonnie Westbrook rhubarb parts from Rhubarbinfo.com rhubarb pie photo from wikipedia