Gunnera plants are popular for their giant herbaceous foliage and dramatic tropical appearance in temperate gardens, but two of the most popular members tend to be mis-identified. The two giant species generally found in cultivation are Gunnera maincata and G. tinctoria â€“ but this is a little confusing, as these can often be sold under several other names. The one species that tends to be the most often mis-identified is G. tinctoria, which may be found listed as (in alphabetical order) G. brasiliensis, G. chillensis, G. maincata (misapplied), G. scabra. Gunnera manicata may occasionally be found with the name G. brasiliensis. So, how to tell them apart? The leaves, although subtly different, are not a good indicator. While most books generally compare the size of the two species, this can be misleading, as the two species must be compared when growing in the same conditions. Gunnera tinctoria may be on average somewhat smaller, but when grown in optimal conditions it can attain sizes that rival many specimens of G. manicata. The flower and later the fruit clusters, however, can give you a clear idea of which species youâ€™re looking at. The inflorescence of Gunnera manicata emerges very large and is broadly conical in shape with a fairly pale reddish colouration. This will elongate to a metre or more in length with a diameter of up to 40 cm. Gunnera tinctoria, on the other hand, will develop narrowly conical inflorescences with a distinctly brick-red colouration, rarely exceeding 70 cm in length, and 20 cm in diameter. BTW â€“ my most recent books date to 2003, so the names of these species may yet have more recent synonyms.