Are Rhubarb Leaves Poisonous? Everything You Need to Know

If you’re an avid gardener and love growing your own produce, then chances are that you’ve considered growing rhubarb. This vegetable, which is often used in pies and other baked goods, has gained popularity over the years due to its tangy taste and versatility. However, there are some important things to know before planting rhubarb in your garden. In this article, we’ll answer a few questions about this plant: Are Rhubarb Leaves Poisonous? Is the Rhubarb Stalk Safe to Eat? How to Grow Rhubarb Safely? Can You Use Rhubarb Leaves for Composting?

Are Rhubarb Leaves Poisonous?

In short, yes, rhubarb leaves are poisonous due to the presence of oxalic acid.

Explanation of Oxalic Acid in Rhubarb Leaves

Oxalic acid is a chemical compound found in many plants, including rhubarb. While small amounts of oxalic acid are harmless, large concentrations can be extremely dangerous. In fact, consuming too much oxalic acid can cause kidney damage and even death.

Symptoms of Rhubarb Poisoning

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Gastrointestinal issues such as stomach pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea
  • Chest pain or tightness
  • Blood in urine or stools
  • Muscle weakness or cramps
  • Bluish lips and fingers

How Much Rhubarb Leaves are Needed to Cause Poisoning?

The amount of rhubarb leaves needed to cause poisoning varies depending on the individual’s weight and overall health. However, experts recommend that adults should not consume more than 0. 5-1. 0 grams of oxalic acid per kilogram body weight per day. If you’re thinking about cooking with rhubarb leaves which also increases their exposure risk make sure to cut them off before usage or learn how to handle them safely while cooking.

If you or someone you know has ingested too much rhubarb leaves and is experiencing any symptoms like the ones above then this one might want to seek medical attention immediately..

Is the Rhubarb Stalk Safe to Eat?

Rhubarb is a delicious and versatile plant that can be used in many recipes, such as pies, crisps, and sauces. However, some people wonder if it is safe to eat the stalks of rhubarb because the leaves contain oxalic acid.

Differences between Rhubarb leaves and stalks

The main difference between rhubarb leaves and stalks is that the leaves contain high levels of oxalic acid, while the stalks do not. Oxalic acid is toxic and can lead to health problems if ingested in large amounts. Consuming rhubarb leaves could result in kidney failure, seizures or even death. It’s highly recommended NOT to consume them.

On other hand, rhubarb stalks are loaded with potassium, vitamin C and antioxidants which are considered essential for good health.

Nutritional benefits of Rhubarb stalks

  • A cup of cooked rhubarb provides around 26% of your daily recommended intake (RDI) of Vitamin K1 which helps blood clotting factors.
  • Rhubarb also contains significant amounts of calcium, magnesium, and vitamin C.. etc
  • If you’re looking to reduce inflammation naturally then adding this plant into your diet might be worth considering boasting anti-inflammatory properties attributable due the polyphenol content.

Safe preparation of Rhubarb for consumption

  1. Cut off any green parts on the top that resemble big spinach leaves before cooking/eating (as mentioned above).
  2. It’s suggested to wash stems carefully under running water before use.
  3. Steaming the stalks is one of the best and healthiest ways to prepare rhubarb while keeping it’s healthy nutrients intact.
  4. Add sweetener since Rhubarb is known for its tart taste adding sugars like honey or maple syrup could be good alternatives.

Overall, as long as you properly prepare and consume only the stalks of rhubarb, it can be a safe and delicious addition to your diet with some health benefits!

How to Grow Rhubarb Safely

Choosing the Right Location for Rhubarb

Rhubarb prefers a cool and temperate climate, so choosing the right location is crucial. Plant your rhubarb in a spot that provides full sunlight in the morning hours, but avoid areas that get too hot during the day or have stagnant water.

You should also avoid planting rhubarb near trees and other plants as they can compete for nutrients and water.

Soil Preparation and Fertilization

Prepare your soil by digging it deep, about 12-18 inches, and adding compost or aged manure to enrich it with organic matter. Do this process weeks before planting so that the soil has time to settle.

Add fertilizer after planting as needed. A balanced fertilizer with an NPK ratio of 10-10-10 will provide enough nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium for healthy growth.

Watering and Pest Management

  • Rhubarb needs moist soil but not wet feet
  • It is crucial to establish a regular watering schedule when you plant your rhubarb. Inconsistent watering can lead to root rot diseases
  • Pest management includes watching out for slugs as they can cause significant damage during growth season
  • A natural way of controlling pests on rhubarb is companion planting — grow herbs such as mint around the plant bed which repels critters like aphids naturally

Harvesting and Storing Rhubarb

Your rhubarbs are ready for harvest when its stalks reach at least 10 inches long. Harvest by gently pulling off from the base of each stem closest to the ground.

Store rhubarb for up to two weeks in the refrigerator or longer by blanching and freezing it. For this, cut them into one-inch pieces, then blanch them in boiling water for one minute before freezing in ice cubes trays or bags.

With these easy tips and care, you can enjoy a healthy harvest of juicy red Rhubarb in your garden!

Using Rhubarb Leaves for Composting: Benefits and Precautions

Yes, you can use Rhubarb leaves for composting, and it has its own set of benefits. The leaves contain high levels of nutrients such as potassium, nitrogen, phosphorus and magnesium that are essential for plant growth.


  • Natural Fertilizer: Rhubarb leaves act as natural fertilizers to enrich the soil with valuable nutrients.
  • Better Water Retention: It helps to retain moisture in the soil; hence your plants will stay hydrated longer ensuring their growth.
  • Sustainability: By using rhubarb leaves in composting instead of throwing them away, you’re contributing to sustainable practices by reducing waste.


  • Avoid Fresh Leaves: Fresh rhubarb leaves have high levels of oxalic acid which can burn your skin or cause indigestion if consumed on their own. Therefore use only dried or wilted Rhubarb leaves for composting;
  • Mix with Other Material: Mixing rhubarbs leaves with other garden wastes is necessary because too many rhubarbs would increase the acidity level in the compost – this may lead to poor plant performance later down the line. So make sure that you spread out the rhubarbs well across other elements in order to balance out pH properly while also facilitating nutrient uptake from roots through various plant species!

In conclusion, composting with Rhubarbs is an eco-friendly option that turns your food scraps into a useful fertilizer for your plants. Just be sure to handle rhubarbs safely and mix them in properly so they benefit without harming your crops or health.


In conclusion, while rhubarb is a relatively safe and easy-to-grow vegetable, it’s important to be aware of the potential risks involved with consuming or handling certain parts of the plant. By following proper growing techniques and taking precautions when handling the leaves or stalks, you can enjoy a bountiful harvest of delicious rhubarb without any adverse effects.


Are rhubarb leaves really poisonous?

Yes, they contain oxalic acid which can cause severe health complications if ingested.

Should I avoid eating any part of the rhubarb plant?

No need! The stalks are edible and extremely nutritious.

What measures can I take ensure my homegrown rhubard is safe for consumption?

Ensure complete composting of leaves & petioles by allowing 30 days between organic fertilization treatment and harvesting & foliar sprays during periods designed on crop production expert guidelines

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