Turkey Rhubarb

Botanical Name: Rheum palmatum | Family: Polygonaceae

Common name(s): Turkey Rhubarb, Chinese Rhubarb


  • Perennial | Zones 6-9 | 9 feet tall  | Palmate, roughish leaves. Greenish-white flowers in June/July. Larger than garden rhubarb.
  • Full sun to partial shade | Prefers well-drained, moist soil but will grow in clay soils


Parts used: Root (for medicine), stems for food, leaves are poisonous

Harvest at least 6-year old roots in the fall.


Decoction: Put 1/2 – 1 tsp root in 1 cup of water. Bring to boil and simmer for 10 minutes. 2x/day

Tincture: 1-2 ml 3x/day


Constituents: Anthraquinones, calcium oxalate, essential oils, fatty acids, minerals, resins, tannins

Actions: Astringent, bitter], laxative

Uses: at normal doses it treats constipation. At low doses tbe astringent action treats diarrhea.

Cautions: DO NOT EAT THE LEAVES! They are toxic. Avoid during pregnancy. Oxalates can aggravate arthritis and gout. Enhances loss of potassium, which can interfere with certain cardiac drugs.


  • Bitter, cold, dry


I do not have access to turkey rhubarb, but when we were splitting up a 15-yr old garden rhubarb, I dried some of the root. According to A Modern Herbal, it is similar in action to Turkey Rhubarb, only milder. I haven’t used it yet, it sits in my pantry.