Gunnera manicata – Giant Chile rhubarb. If you want to grow a plant with the largest leaves possible, then it has to be G. manicata, an absolute essential for the exotic garden that is, if you have enough room! There is a valley with swaths of them growing to perfection at Abbotsbury Gardens in Dorset, a sight to behold. It is a very dramatic, clump-forming herbaceous perennial with the biggest leaves that can be grown outside in the UK. This Goliath of a plant is indigenous to regions from Coloumbia to Brazil, growing from 1.8-3m high and 3-4m wide, with enormous rhubarb-like, rounded, prominently veined, sharply toothed, deep green leaves that are spiny underneath and anything up to 2-2.5m across, on prickly stalks up to 2.5m long. In early summer tiny red flowers are formed on wide, erect spikes 1-1.8m tall. Hardy to-15° C and probably lower with a good mulch.
When cut down by frost, place the old leaves over the crowns, to protect them from prolonged freezing periods. It can also be grown in a very large container though it will be smaller in stature.
Common Name: Giant Chile rhubarb Although nothing to do with rhubarb!
Latin Name: Gunnera manicata
Tenderness Rating: Hardy
Ease of growing: Easy
Position: Full sun to dappled shade
Soil Condition: Moisture retentive fertile soils – It works well as a pond marginal