Rhubarb, botanically Rheum rhabarbarum, has almost fallen into oblivion in recent decades. But now the plant is enjoying growing popularity in our gardens again. What many people don’t know is that rhubarb is not a fruit, but a vegetable. And there is an amazing number of tasty varieties of rhubarb, varying in both appearance and taste.


The rhubarb that is grown as a vegetable in our gardens is a relatively young crop that has been cultivated since the 18th century as a hybrid of the common rhubarb (Rheum rhabarbarum), also known as curly rhubarb or vegetable rhubarb. That is why it is often found under the name Rheum x hybridum.

distinguishing features

The individual rhubarb varieties can be distinguished according to the time of harvest. There are early, middle and late ripening varieties. In practice, however, the classification is usually based on the color of the stem. It is possible to draw a direct conclusion about the taste and yield from the color of the stalks and the pulp.

1. Green-stemmed varieties with green flesh

Rhubarb varieties with green stems and green flesh form a particularly large number of shoots and are therefore considered to be very productive. However, the sour taste is not for everyone.

‚Early Green‘

Characteristic of the rhubarb ‘Early Green’ are the up to 60 cm large leaf umbrellas on long, thick leaf stalks with a sour-fruity aroma.

  • earliest variety
  • Stems: very long and thick, almost continuously green
  • Use: mainly for cakes


As the name suggests, Rheum rhabarbarum ‘Giant’ is a very tall vegetable rhubarb. More specifically, the largest, green-stemmed variety of rhubarb.

  • Stem: over 70 cm long
  • high oxalic acid content
Note: St. John’s Day on June 24th is considered the deadline for harvesting the rhubarb. Since the oxalic acid content increases sharply from this point on, the plant is left to rest.

2. Red-stemmed varieties with green or light-colored flesh

Somewhat milder are those varieties that form a reddish skin and green flesh.

‚Raspberry Red’

The rose rhubarb ‘Frambozen Rood’ is particularly popular because of its fruity aroma, its fragrance and its tender flesh. The stems are tender and soft, so they can also be used unpeeled.

  • Spätreife Kind
  • Growth height: 70 to 150 cm
  • Width: sprawling growth
  • Stems: reddish below, green above
Note: Because of its properties, this rhubarb is popularly known as raspberry or strawberry rhubarb. Incidentally, Framboos is the Dutch word for raspberry.


The ‘Goliath’ variety is by far the largest of the edible rhubarb varieties. Its stems are up to 90 centimeters long and have a strong, slightly sour taste. With its flowers, the plant can reach a height of up to 1.7 meters, making it an impressive solitary perennial in the garden. The Rheum rhabarbarum ‘Goliath’ is very productive.

  • medium early variety (harvest between April and June)
  • Growth height: over 100 cm
  • Growth width: 60 to 100 cm
  • Stems: green, long and rather narrow

‚Stockbridge Arrow‘

‘Stockbridge Arrow’ or just ‘Arrow’ is a red stemmed rhubarb variety known for its upright, slender habit and heavy yields. The relatively young variety comes from Yorkshire. There it quickly became the most popular type of rhubarb in England.

  • early variety
  • Growth height: about 60 cm
  • Flesh: reddish at the base, otherwise almost white

Timperley Early‘

Rheum rhabarbarum ‘Timperley Early’ is one of the earliest rhubarbs to ripen. The variety is sour and fruity and does not have to be peeled or peeled off, as it hardly shows any lignification or thread formation. However, the approximately 30 cm long rods are quite thin and break easily.

  • very early variety
  • Growth height: 60 to 80 cm
  • Stem: green, red or pink
  • Flesh: greenish to whitish

3. Red-stemmed varieties with red flesh

Red-fleshed varieties tend to be sweeter and have a much milder taste than rhubarb varieties with green flesh. They also have a higher ornamental value in the garden.


Rheum rhabarbarum ‘Campbell’ comes from Canada and is characterized by excellent winter hardiness. Striking in this variety are above all the spear strength and the stocky growth. The slightly fibrous consistency of the stalks disappears completely after processing.

  • Growth height: 70 cm (flowering up to 150 cm)
  • Flesh: intense red throughout
  • very mild aroma

‚Canada Red‘

This variety also comes from Canada and is very similar to ‘Campbell’ in almost all characteristics. The taste of ‘Canada Red’ is slightly less mild. As a result, the ‘Campbell’ variety often overtakes its red-fleshed competition.

  • Growth height: 70 cm
  • Flesh: without stringy structure
  • mild aroma


The consistently reddish stalks of this raspberry rhubarb have a very low acid content. Therefore, this rhubarb is particularly suitable for people who are sensitive to oxalic acid. ‘Elmsjuwel’ is a historic variety from Northern Germany.

  • Harvest time: April to June
  • Growth height: 100 to 150 cm
  • Flesh: firm and particularly fruity
  • sweet and sour aroma

Old varieties

Today, the old rhubarb varieties are also enjoying increasing popularity again:


This garden rhubarb with the beautiful, dark red leaf stalks is one of the old, proven varieties that are hard to find today. Its flesh is particularly mild and is also characterized by a very low oxalic acid content. For this reason, the mildly aromatic stems can be harvested for a very long time.

  • Growth height: 60 cm
  • occasionally higher
  • Harvest: April to July
  • little acid

‚Glaskins Perpetual‘

Perpetual means “enduring”. This vegetable rhubarb can be harvested and consumed throughout the season due to its low oxalic acid content. Incidentally, ‘Glaskins Perpetual’ was first presented around 1920 in Brighton as a so-called “garden rhubarb”.

  • Growth height: up to 150 cm
  • Stems: bright red, partly green
  • Flesh: greenish

‘Holstein blood’

One of the old rhubarb varieties is the most popular garden rhubarb in Germany: ‘Holsteiner Blut’. Since this breed from northern Germany is very productive and robust, it has established itself far beyond the borders of Germany.

  • medium early variety (fruit ripening May to July)
  • Growth height: 40 to 50 cm
  • Width: 60 to 100 cm
  • Stems: red with greenish stripes
  • Flesh: greenish to pink
  • very aromatic, mildly acidic


In contrast to many other proven rhubarb varieties, this old variety does not have red stems, but green stems. The special feature of this vegetable rhubarb from the 18th century is that it can be harvested very early in the year.

  • very early variety
  • Stem: green
  • Flesh: green

‘Red Champagner’ / ‘Champagne’

Rheum rhabarbarum ‘Red Champagner’ is one of the traditional rhubarb varieties for fruit and vegetable beds and natural gardens. It can also be cultivated in large tubs.

  • early variety
  • Growth height: 90 to 150 cm
  • Width: 50 to 150 cm
  • Stems: reddish, diameter up to 4 cm
  • Flesh: whitish to light green

‘four country blood’

Rheum rhabarbarum ‘Vierländer Blut’ is a traditional, old variety from the fruit-growing region near Hamburg. The juice of this variety has a distinctive rhubarb aroma and an intense red colour.

  • Growth height: 80 cm
  • Stems: dark red
  • Flesh: intense red
  • Use: juice and compote

Special Varieties

‚Chereshkovy Kompotny’

The Russian rhubarb variety ‘Chereshkovy Kompotny’ has a very rare colour. Their petioles are all shades of orange. This strain is not only popular for its looks, but is also valued for its good taste.

  • precocious variety
  • Stem: long and thick, orange in color
  • Flesh: very firm

‚Bowles Crimson‘

A special eye-catcher is the rhubarb variety ‘Bowles Crimson’. The leaves are not only pinnate, but also consistently colored in a deep violet-red. The bud looks like a colorful Easter egg and unfolds into a spectacular fiery red flower. In the summer, the red color of the leaves loses some of it. The taste reminds a little of gooseberries.

  • Growth height: 1.5 to 2 m
  • Width: 1 to 1.5 m
  • mildsüßes Aroma

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *