Gunnera is a large herbaceous, non-native plant in the UK. It grows to form dense colonies of large, umbrella sized leaves. It is often seen growing in boggy areas close to streams and creeks. Despite its resemblance to the rhubarb plant, it is not related to the large, edible, garden rhubarb plant. Gunnera can be divided and split into new plants easily, read here. 

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Gunnera manicata

Gunnera manicata

Gunnera, however, is not a poisonous plant to human, and animals like birds, dogs, cats, horses, and livestock. So far in the UK, there have been no reported cases of poisoning after the ingestion of gunnera. 

As established, gunnera is not poisonous to humans, it can hurt us through the stiff bristles on the leaf blades and stems can scratch and tear the skin if not handled with care.

Can you eat gunnera?

Just like the common rhubarb plant, the stalk of the nalca is edible and you’ll find it for sale in some markets and its native region Chile, you can find street vendors selling it.

According to reports by Plants for a Future in 2000, young leaf stalks (petioles) can be eaten raw or peeled and cooked as a source of vegetables. They can be cooked with salt and chilli to enhance the taste of meals. They contain some acidic substance can creates a refreshing feeling. In some parts of Chile, gunnera tinctoria is eaten as a delicacy by the Mapuche Indians.

Gunnera tinctoria is also used as an astringent in medicine.

Apart from being ingested as food or medicine, the roots of the gunnera plant can be used to create a black dye often applied to roofing in construction. 

Other uses of gunnera

Apart from eaten as a food, gunnera can also be used for some of the following purposes:

Gunnera perpensa, the only gunnera species that can be found occurring naturally in Africa is reported to have several medicinal properties and is often used as herbal medicine to treat both human and animal illnesses. It has several classes of phytochemicals that have been isolated and used in herbal concoctions and prescriptions. Herbal concoctions with gunnera perpensa are used in women as postnatal medication, labour inducer, or to treat urinary complaints, some sexually transmitted infections, general body pains, kidney problems, etc.

Is Gunnera Toxic To Dogs?

Gunnera tinctoria or Giant Rhubarb is a non-native invasive species in the UK. It is often seen growing around boggy areas where it thrives to grow to large sizes. 

If you have a pet, either a dog, cat, horse, etc. you need to be careful of the plants that are growing within the reach of the animals. Know their names, purposes, nutritional value, side effects, and of course toxicity levels. Cats and dogs may react differently to the toxic levels of different plants; that is while some plants are toxic to dogs, they might be non-toxic to cats, birds, livestock, horses, etc. and vice versa.

However, in the case of Gunnera and dogs, there have been no reported cases of severe reactions that dogs have had from eating Gunnera. In the UK and generally, Gunnera is considered a non-toxic plant to dogs, cats, birds, horses, livestock and humans. 

Though your dog may have some side effects from eating Gunnera as well as other non-toxic plants, you don’t have to worry about poisoning. Light vomiting, diarrhoea, or intestinal discomfort may occur when dogs eat plants but that doesn’t mean the plants are toxic to your dog. They may be eating plants for several reasons that you should be aware of.

Reasons Your Dog Might Be Eating Gunnera

One major reason that your dog may be eating your gunnera tinctoria plant is curiosity. Dogs are very inquisitive animals by nature and you often see them chewing on shoes, toys, or whatever you leave around the house, including plants. They may be curious about the taste of the plants and go ahead to chew on them while playing in the garden.

Other reasons are nutritional deficiency, abdominal discomfort caused by gas, or they may simply enjoy the taste. 

If you would like to read more about Gunnera:


Last Modified: May 19, 2022