One of our ecologists recently found a stand of Giant Rhubarb whilst surveying in north County Cork.
Giant Rhubarb or Gunnera tinctoria is an invasive alien species, originally from South America, which was introduced to Irish gardens as an ornamental plant. It is easily recognisable, with very large (up to 300cm) leaves, thick, bristly stems and reaching heights in excess of 4m. The inflorescences are produced as spikes of densely packed tiny flowers.
High quantity seed production (each seed head can produce over 80,000 seeds) enables Giant Rhubarb to reproduce efficiently thus dominating the soil seed bank while large leaves enable the shading out of smaller or more slow growing plants. These traits enable G. tinctoria to quickly establish in suitable areas, mainly wet fields and ditches where it then becomes a problematic invasive alien species.
Inis regularly produces Invasive Species Management Plans for the treatment of alien invasive infestations such as Giant Rhubarb.