March is upon us – and it’s a month filled with daffodils, aquamarine, Mother’s Day and the real star of the show - Rhubarb!
The word rhubarb comes from the Latin ‘rhubabarum’ meaning “root of the barbarians” – The Romans even labelled anyone who ate rhubarb a barbarian.
So, are you a rhubarb-arian? If you are, we’ve got some great facts for you!
1. Rhubarb is actually a vegetable! Although deliciously sweet and found in a number of sugary treats, rhubarb is classified as a vegetable (within the buckwheat family). But that didn’t stop the New York court ruling it an official fruit in 1947!
2. Rhubarb is also a perennial – making it only one of two vegetables that continue to grow and spread each year, unlike other vegetables that must continuously be sown. The other is asparagus!
3. Rhubarb is native to central Asia and has been grown in China and traded for medical purposes from as early as the 16th Nowadays, it’s even used to dye eggs, hair and fibres used to knit sweaters.
4. Marco Polo is said to have brought the plant to Europe whilst Benjamin Franklin is credited as being one of the first people to send rhubarb seeds to the American colonies.
5. The colour of the stalk determines the taste. Keep an eye on your rhubarb because the darker the red of the stalk, the sweeter the rhubarb – make sure you pick it when it’s ripe!
6.The leaves attached to a rhubarb stalk are poisonous to humans and animals! The leaves contain a chemical called oxalic acid, which is known to be detrimental to human health so maybe just stick to the stalk!
7. In the 1930s, people in theatre productions would repeat the word rhubarb to simulate background conversation. In the 1940’s, the word ‘rhubarb’ was also used to refer to a loud dispute – commonly used to describe the escapades of fans at baseball games.
8. Wild rhubarb should never be confused with its garden varieties as wild rhubarb is simply another name for common burdock – a weed which looks similar but is decidedly inedible.
9. Rhubarb is known for being in pies, crumbles, jams and jellies but the fibres in the vegetable can also be used in the production of paper!