Far Out Flora

Giant Gunnera

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Giant Gunnera, aka Giant Rhubarb, is one of those prehistoric dinosaur plants.  I really want one…but it’s way too big for our home garden in San Francisco.

Detail of the Gunnera flower

Detail of the Gunnera flower

They have funky flowers too.  Above is a detail of their blooms.

Gunnera by the DeYoung Museum

Gunnera by the DeYoung Museum

The most common place you are gonna see a Giant Gunnera (Gunnera manicata) is in a public space.  Yesterday while hiking in Golden Gate Park, I popped over to two places where I can find these monsters.  First place is near the DeYoung Museum.

Giant Gunnera - Gunnera manicata

Giant Gunnera - Gunnera manicata

The second is in GGP’s Tree Fern Dell (hey…looks like Danger Garden found the Dell too).  This is one bad boy.  The leaves are prickly top and bottom, the stems have these pointy spikes, and the flowers look more like a bottle brush scrub.  Who would win a fight between Gunnera manicata VS Agave americana?

Flower and stem.

Flower and stem.

Look closely.  To give some sense of scale, I put my black camera lens cover upon the center of the leaf below.  Yeah, it is that tiny dot in the middle.  I would say this leaf was about 4 feet wide.

Huge leaves (see camera lens cover center of leaf)

Huge leaves (see camera lens cover center of leaf)

Just strange.

Just strange.

You have to love public gardens.  Gunnera like wet boggy areas, and is doing well near this pond.  But what is up with those sculptures?  Just a little too creepy for me.

– Far Out Flora

13 Comments

  1. Hey! Thanks for the link. Gunnera are the BEST. I’ve seen several cool ones around town here in Portland, and mine was amazing last year (http://dangergarden.blogspot.com/2009/07/battle-of-big-leaves.html) but after the freakish winter it got knocked back. Not so big this year…but at least it’s still alive. Maybe you could just plunk down a big bog container and plant a Gunnera someplace in your garden?

  2. It was so funny to me seeing the difference in this plant on the east coast vs. west coast. Stonecrop garden in Cold Spring, NY has a huge Gunnera in their zone 5 bog garden that they create this insanely elaborate gigantic wooden box around so it will over winter safely. Meanwhile when I was living in Mendocino you would see them growing sort of haphazardly in the concrete parking lot planter in front of the video store in town.

    The most impressive specimens I have seen were in English gardens.

  3. Finally, the name for this plant. I was intrigued by it during my first (and only) visit to the DeYoung.

  4. You weren’t kidding about these in an enchanted garden! I completely forgot to mention these since they’re so rare around here. Thanks for including the camera lens for scale!

  5. Dude! Gunneras are so friggin’ awesome!! Great photos there! I love seeing them around the hood. I’ve even seen them growing in Daly City not too far from you guys, randomly in drainage ditches here and there. There’s a whole bunch growing by the Exploratorium too, and the ones at the SF Zoo are just flippin’ huge… I’m growing some in my back yard in large containers, and they are just busting out at the seams! Please, take some!! :)

    • Yeah, I forgot about the ones at the Exploratorium and Zoo. Will need to make a run to check them out. Funny, we live so close to the Zoo and have yet to check it out…how embarrassing. And dude…yeah…need to get some of those plants. We will have to try the container growing method. Matti

  6. Would that I had room for such an imposing specimen..maybe a container would have a bonsai effect ?

  7. Love this plant. You can restrict their size by restricting the root ball (just like bonsai as Kathy suggested). I used to have one that I kept in its one gallon nursery can then sat inside a heavier pot without drainage holes. It would sit in water. By keeping the roots restricted it stayed fairly small. Gave it away when we left CA, wish it would grow here in FL.

  8. That Gunnera is so special!!! WOWZERS!!!

  9. I know you think the statue is strange, but I would love to have it and also the site it is inhabiting.

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