Gunnera tinctoria – The Horror Plant
Gunnera tinctoria, more commonly known as Giant rhubarb is a native plant to South America. The plant has become an extremely invasive plant in Ireland and most of Europe. It can commonly be found along rivers and damp marshy areas. The plant has become a large problem on the Irish island of Achill found off the coast of Co Mayo.
Gunnera plants are mostly all perennial plants and form large clumps of large Jurassic park style foliage. The plant looks very similar to the edible plant rhubarb but is extremely toxic to eat. The large leaves look extremely striking and it can be seen why people first introduced it to their gardens as a bog garden plant. One of the plants most attractive features besides from its foliage is the large spikes of cone shaped flowers which appear during the summer.
The plant is however a registered invasive plant in Ireland. Its large dense foliage blocks out sunlight from the plants underneath it, preventing growth and often suppression of native plants. It has been blamed for the localised extinction of many plants in Ireland. The plant can cause issues with drainage also so its removal is recommended on the Invasive Species Ireland website and is then to be chemically treated.