rhubarb

/rooh"bahrb/, n.
1. any of several plants belonging to the genus Rheum, of the buckwheat family, as R. officinale, having a medicinal rhizome, and R. rhabarbarum, having edible leafstalks.
2. the rhizome of any medicinal species of this plant, forming a combined cathartic and astringent.
3. the edible, fleshy leafstalks of R. rhabarbarum, used in making pies, preserves, etc.
4. Slang. a quarrel or squabble.
[1350-1400; ME rubarb, reubarb < OF r(e)ubarbe < ML reubarbarum < Gk rhéon bárbaron foreign rhubarb]

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Any of several species of the genus Rheum (family Polygonaceae), especially R. rhaponticum (or R. rhabarbarum), a hardy perennial grown for its large, succulent, edible leafstalks.

Rhubarb is best adapted to the cooler parts of the temperate zones. The fleshy, tart, and highly acid leafstalks are used in pies, compotes and preserves, and sometimes as the base of a wine or an aperitif. The roots withstand cold well. The huge leaves that unfold in early spring are toxic to cattle and humans; later in the season a large central flower stalk may bear numerous small, greenish-white flowers and angular, winged fruits. Rhubarb root has long been considered to have cathartic and purgative properties.

Rhubarb (Rheum rhaponticum)

Derek Fell

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plant
also called  Pieplant,  
 any of several species of the genus Rheum (family Polygonaceae), especially Rheum rhaponticum (or R. rhabarbarum), a hardy perennial grown for its large, succulent leafstalks, which are edible.

      The rhubarb is best adapted to the cooler parts of the temperate zones. The plant's fleshy, tart, and highly acid leafstalks are used in pies, often with strawberries (strawberry), in compotes and preserves, and sometimes as the base of a wine or an aperitif. The roots withstand cold well, although the tops are killed in autumn. The rhubarb's leaves contain a toxic substance and are usually not eaten, except in certain areas of the Himalayas, where they may be cooked and consumed.

      In Asia, where it originated, the rhubarb produces large clumps of enormous leaves, up to 60 cm (2 feet) across, on proportionately large petioles, or leafstalks, which are 25 mm (1 inch) or more in diameter and up to 60 cm in length, and which arise from an underground stem. The huge leaves appear early in the spring; later in the season a large central flower stalk may appear and bear numerous small, greenish white flowers and angular, winged fruits containing one seed.

      Rhubarb root, from Rheum officinale and R. palmatum, has been used in medicine in China and Tibet from very early times, primarily as a cathartic. It was described in the Chinese herbal Pen-king, which is believed to date from 2700 BC. In England the culture of rhubarb for medicinal purposes began in 1777 at Banbury in Oxfordshire. The constituents that give rhubarb its purgative properties and its yellow colour are anthracene glycosides. Nearly 40 percent of the drug consists of calcium oxalate, which gives it the characteristic grittiness. Also present is the astringent rheotannic acid. Numerous other constituents include emodin, mucilage, resins, rheumic acid, and aporhetin.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Rhubarb — Rhu barb, n. [F. rhubarbe, OF. rubarbe, rheubarbe, reubarbare, reobarbe, LL. rheubarbarum for rheum barbarum, Gr. ??? (and ??) rhubarb, from the river Rha (the Volga) on whose banks it grew. Originally, therefore, it was the barbarian plant from… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • rhubarb — late 14c., from O.Fr. rubarbe, from M.L. rheubarbarum, from Gk. rha barbaron foreign rhubarb, from rha rhubarb (associated with Rha, ancient Scythian name of the River Volga) + barbaron, neut. of barbaros foreign. Grown in China and Tibet, it was …   Etymology dictionary

  • rhubarb — [ro͞o′bärb΄] n. [ME rubarbe < OFr rheubarbe < ML rheubarbarum, altered < LL rha barbarum < Gr rhēon barbaron, foreign rhubarb < rhēon, rhubarb (< Pers rēwend) + barbaron, foreign, BARBAROUS] 1. any of a genus (Rheum) of… …   English World dictionary

  • rhubarb — ► NOUN 1) the thick leaf stalks of a plant of the dock family, which are reddish or green and eaten as a fruit after cooking. 2) Brit. informal noise made by a group of actors to give the impression of indistinct background conversation. 3)… …   English terms dictionary

  • Rhubarb — For other uses, see Rhubarb (disambiguation). Rhubarb Scientific classification Kingdom: Plantae …   Wikipedia

  • rhubarb — noun /ˈɹʊuˌbɑː(ɹ)b/ a) Any plant of the genus Rheum, especially R. rharbarbarum, having large leaves and long green or reddish acidic leafstalks, that are edible, in particular when cooked (although the leaves are mildly poisonous). Rhubarb is of …   Wiktionary

  • rhubarb — [14] The Greeks had two words for ‘rhubarb’: rhéon, which was borrowed from Persian rēwend, and which evolved into Latin rheum, now the plant’s scientific name; and rha, which is said to have come from Rha, an ancient name of the river Volga, in… …   The Hutchinson dictionary of word origins

  • rhubarb — [14] The Greeks had two words for ‘rhubarb’: rhéon, which was borrowed from Persian rēwend, and which evolved into Latin rheum, now the plant’s scientific name; and rha, which is said to have come from Rha, an ancient name of the river Volga, in… …   Word origins

  • rhubarb — n. (slang) argument 1) to get into a rhubarb 2) a rhubarb about * * * [ ruːbɑːb] (slang) [ argument ] to get into a rhubarb a rhubarb about …   Combinatory dictionary

  • rhubarb — noun 1》 a large leaved plant of the dock family which produces thick reddish or green leaf stalks. [Rheum rhaponticum and related species.]     ↘the cooked leaf stalks of the rhubarb plant, eaten as a dessert. 2》 Brit. informal noise made by a… …   English new terms dictionary

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