- The Plate
Does Rhubarb Deserve Its Killer Reputation?
Rhubarb is next to impossible to kill.
Here in northern Vermont, rhubarb is about the first thing that pops up in our garden in the spring—and that’s not due to us; over the years, we’ve inadvertently squashed it, stepped on it, weed-whacked it, and even mowed it down with the tractor. And still it survives. Rhubarb is tough. In my experience, it’s the botanical equivalent of The Cat Came Back.
This may have something to do with rhubarb’s chilly center of origin in east Asia—most likely, botanists guess, in inhospitable Mongolia. Marco Polo, on his famous 13th-century journey to Cathay, noted it growing “in great abundance” in the mountains of northwest China. Today it thrives in Siberia, Canada, Alaska, Michigan, and