Rhubarb Flowers

Discussion in 'Fruit and Vegetable Gardening' started by MXB, Apr 19, 2008.

  1. MXB

    MXB Active Member

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    Hello,
    I have a huge head of flowers erupting from the middle of my rhubarb.

    Do I cut them off and save the plants energy or keep them because they are decorative?

    Is there a hard and fast answer to this or is it really personal choice at the end of the day?

    Many Thx

    MXB
     
  2. Liz

    Liz Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    I just leave them when they have happened. I am not sure but I think lack of water may have made it go to flower. Are your stems big thick and jucy or thin and leathery?I also discovered many years ago when the farm next door [we own 5 acres of it now] was growing them by the acre, there were several varieties growing. One was quiet sweet with thick stems not so red and the thinner stemmed ones were very sour and red but made great pies.

    according to this they say remove as the plant establishes. Under heading growing

    http://www.rhubarbinfo.com/rhubarb-growing.html

    Liz
     
  3. Durgan

    Durgan Contributor 10 Years

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    Since I was a pup we were told to cut off the huge seed stem. We had about 15 plants and cutting the huge pod could be a chore for a small boy with a butcher knife. To me it has always been the thing to do. I still cut off the seed stem from my four plants. As to the necessity of this practice, I don't know.

    Incidentially, I also, always pull the stocks not cutting them off at ground level. If the soil moisture is correct the stems pull easily with a gentle pull. Also, it is very difficult to cut the inner stems in a crowded plant. I mention this because, I have encountered discussion on this matter.
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2008
  4. lorax

    lorax Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    I have always been of the school that says "If you want to eat your rhubarb, never ever let it bloom" so I've always twisted the bloomstalk out as soon as I notice it. I thought it had something to do with keeping the stems from becoming leathery and gross.
    Incidentally, as so many others here, I have never actually cut rhubarb until it reaches my kitchen - I've always just twisted and pulled gently to free the stems.
     
  5. Denise

    Denise Active Member

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    All the various sites on the internet tell us to cut off or tear off the seed head. The main reason given is so that energy needed to grow the seed head will go to the plant producing the stalks and not to seed formation. As with others who have posted I reach far down into the plants, sort of rotate the stem at the base and then pull it off. I think this is also better for the plant and doesn't leave any raw edges for beasties to enjoy.
     
  6. smivies

    smivies Active Member

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    Can't eat enough of it anyway to be concerned about robbing strength from the plant.
     
  7. Durgan

    Durgan Contributor 10 Years

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    I have four large plants and eat it all over about 5 weeks. It boils down to almost nothing.

    As an aside, the plant is allowed to grow after about June the 20th to supply energy for next year's stalks. Usually I get four pickings.
     
  8. smivies

    smivies Active Member

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    I should have prefaced...."I can't eat enough of it to make any difference if it flowers or not"
     
  9. lorax

    lorax Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    You mean you never just eat it raw?!? Soooo yummy!
     
  10. Liz

    Liz Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Really!!! come on now Lorax are you telling "porkies". I have enough trouble when it's cooked I usually tone it down with apple. Is it variety that makes it more or less sour?Or is it the soil it's being grown in and amount of water?

    Liz
     
  11. lorax

    lorax Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    I tell no porkies, I just love really really sour stuff. I drink shots of vinegar too. I'm pretty sure I grow garden variety red rhubarb.
     
  12. nic

    nic Active Member 10 Years

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    My rhubarb is flowering for the first time this year and I'm leaving it because I've never had the chance to have a good look at a rhubarb flower.
    If you put Sweet Cicely leaves(Myrrhis odorata) in with rhubarb when stewing it, it greatly reduces the need for sugar, and I would like to know why. You can polish wood with the seeds of sweet Cicely, too, it's as well it's so useful, as it grows far too energetically for me.
     
  13. lorax

    lorax Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    I'd venture to guess that some compound in the Cicely interacts with the oxalate of the Rhubarb and thus decreases the perceived bitterness of the final moosh.

    Incidentally, I could never get Cicely to grow for me in Canada, but I've used Elderberry flowers and Angelica (same family as Cicely) for much the same effect. Then again, I rarely do because I like the bitter/sour flavour of rhubarb on its own.

    Although, if you stew it with fresh strawberries or blackberries the resulting compote is super tasty - the two flavours really compliment each other.
     
  14. nic

    nic Active Member 10 Years

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    Oh, rhubarb and elderflower jam, I'd forgotten about that. My mother used to slice oranges between the rhubarb and the crumble, which I didn't like. I found out about the sweet cicely myself (from a herbal). Fresh angelica? Crystalised angelica is another of the many things I cheerfully gave up eating when I left home.
    At home the rhubarb flowers were always removed, so as not to "rob the plant", so I'm curious to see what they are like, and if any little birds come to the seedheads.
    I'd guessed it was a chemical reaction of one type or another, I just wondered if anyone knows what it is in the cicely that's doing the reacting. I also always wonder how these things were first discovered.
     
  15. lorax

    lorax Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    Probably it's the anethol or another of the volatile oils, in some kind of organic heat-catalysed reduction reaction with the oxalic acid. Natureman might know.
     
  16. nic

    nic Active Member 10 Years

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    Thanks. That gives me enough information to ask the chemist who lives next door. She will draw diagrams on the edge of the newspaper which I will understand while she is drawing them, and, with luck, long enough to tell you what she said.
     
  17. lorax

    lorax Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    Heck, I have three-quarters of an organic chem degree. If you take a picture of what she tells you, that will tell me.
     
  18. Liz

    Liz Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Apples also have a good chemical taste in an open tart when mixed with rhubarb moosh :)

    Liz
     
  19. lorax

    lorax Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    Actually, most sweet fruits mix well with rhubarb moosh.

    But my absolute fave has to be Rhubarb-Pineapple-Blackberry in an open tart with Wetnuts (Walnuts preserved in Maple Syrup)
     
  20. nic

    nic Active Member 10 Years

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    An alcohol+an acid=an ester, apparently, and esters are less bitter then acids, acording to the chemist next door, who has a Doctorate. She also spoke of energy of activation, and drew a graph.I'm sure that was obvious to all with any kind of scientific background. Chemistry O level was a very long time ago for me.
    I've had a good look at my rhubarb flowers, they're rather interesting, with red tips. I'll let it grow this year, out of curiosity. I'm the only one in the house who'll eat it, and it's MY garden. I don't know the variety, it came from a friend's mother's garden, like so many good things,and was famed for its good flavour, which is what matters to me, although it would be nice to have a name.
     
  21. lorax

    lorax Rising Contributor 10 Years

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    Ok, that makes sense! Thanks.
     
  22. nic

    nic Active Member 10 Years

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    No little birds are interested in my rhubarb seedheads, not that much seed set. I'll cut it when it's a bit drier, it would be an unpleasant job in the wet. Letting it flower doesn't seem to have affected the plant at all, it's burgeoning away out there, but it has had a lot of rain.
     
  23. Liz

    Liz Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    I think that is the trick (water) for good stems not beheadings. When mine are dry here the stems are very leathery and a bit limp not thick and crisp. Good composty soil helps if you are in a dry location.

    Liz
     

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