Rhubarb

Discussion in 'Gardening & Plant Propagation' started by catmar, Jan 12, 2007.

  1. catmar

    catmar Well-Known Member

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    Stupid question...
    I know the leaves are poisonous to humans; can birds or other animals eat it? Will it affect the compost pile?
     
  2. Paquebot

    Paquebot Well-Known Member

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    Rhubarb leaves are equally poisonous to birds and animals as they are to humans.
    Rhubarb leaves will NOT affect the compost pile in any bad way but rather be a good source of nitrogen to assist breaking down carbon material.

    Martin
     

  3. sherwood

    sherwood Active Member

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    Deer eat rhubarb leaves here after a hard frost, also some other highly
    poisonous plants. I never find any dead deer after. :shrug:
     
  4. oberhaslikid

    oberhaslikid Well-Known Member Supporter

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    If I dont protect mine the chickens eat the young leaves off.They havent died yet.
     
  5. Pony

    Pony Well-Known Member Supporter

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    The poisonous component of rhubarb leaves is oxalic acid. As a human, you'd have to eat quite a large amount of rhubarb leaves for them to kill you, but not really all that much to make you feel rather ill.

    Here's a great page on rhubarb toxicity:
    http://www.rhubarbinfo.com/rhubarb-poison.html

    Pony!
     
  6. culpeper

    culpeper Well-Known Member

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    Most green, leafy vegetables contain some level of oxalic acid. This includes lettuce, spinach, sorrels, dandelions and hosts of others.

    It's the oxalic acid which gives greens their characteristic bitter taste.

    As Pony pointed out, it's the amount of oxalic acid which makes it 'poisonous' or not. It is recommended, for instance, that you should cook French sorrel in several changes of water before eating it - thus removing much of the oxalic acid. You'd have to eat an awful lot of lettuce to be affected by the amount of oxalic acid in it. But it's there, nonetheless.

    Rhubarb is extremely high in oxalic acid, so eating only a small amount of the leaves will make you sorry you did.

    It is quite safe to put rhubarb leaves in your compost heap. Compost is food for your plants, not for you!

    It is never a good idea to judge the edibility of plants by what birds and animals eat. Many creatures have evolved over the years to be able to tolerate certain substances that we humans cannot tolerate. eg. certain birds can eat berries which would kill a human being; koalas live entirely on eucalyptus leaves, which even in small amounts can be harmful to humans. Just be aware that there IS a difference between Us and Them.
     
  7. JAS

    JAS Well-Known Member

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    I had to fence in some newly planted rhubarb last year because the rabbits (domesticated freerange) kept eating it. They actually would eat the new leaves and then dig down like they were going to eat the roots???