Nature Notes

Gunnera Manicata

I photographed these prehistoric-looking Gunnerra manicata, or giant rhubarb, plants at the Fairhaven Water Garden Centre near South Walsham in Norfolk last week. The plant is named after the Norwegian Ernst Gunnerus, an 18th century bishop and botanist who was also a theologian at Copenhagen university. They were growing in very boggy conditions and some of the leaves were about 4ft (about a metre and a quarter), across; although the leaves of some specimens some can easily attain 10ft (3 metres) across. Their situation, not far from some good examples of skunk cabbage, (Symplocarpus foetidus), made this part of the water gardens resemble a scene that may have existed when dinosaurs roamed the earth.
Gunnera manicata