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What Is The Tall Stem In The Middle Of A…

Leonard Asked

What is the tall stem in the middle of a rhubarb plant–is this a seed pod?

The Gardener’s Answer

Hello, Leonard: It sounds like what you are referring to is a seed stalk. Some varieties of rhubarb, especially the ornamental ones, are more likely than others to produce seed stalks. These flowering seed stalks are commonly found among older, mature plants as well as when they become overcrowded or in need of nutrients. If you are growing this as a vegetable and not an ornamental plant, the seed stalks should be removed as soon as you notice them because they will take energy away from producing the edible stalks (petioles). Allowing the rhubarb to flower will reduce the vigor of the plant. Flowering may continue to occur so keep an eye on your vegetable (yes, it truly is a veggie!) and remove them as soon as you notice them. You should be able to pull them out of the plant but you may need to get your pruners out. If your plants are older, you may consider thinning them out. If you have not added any compost this season, go ahead and do so–your rhubarb will be very thankful. Remember that the foliage is poisonous! Only eat the stalks. I hope you get to enjoy some rhubarb pie.

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