Why, of course, dinosaur food! Would that include the giant, leafy Dinosaur Food Plant? Also known as Giant Rhubarb and Giant Gunnera. For years I’ve been fascinated by a peculiar type of green foliage plant that grows in a popular, local garden park. It blooms in the summer and it grows to enormous heights (6-8 ft), and its broad leaves are humongous….and I mean humongous! The plant looks as if it belongs in some prehistoric, tropical jungle. For the longest time I had no idea what type of plant it was until, one day, I found a small label stuck in the ground indicating the name of the plant—Dinosaur Food Plant. What the heck? Whoever came up with that name…and why?
I took a few photos of the underside of the leaf of the Giant Gunnera with the sun shining through so as to illuminate its details. The rough cell structure uncannily resembles the skin of some reptiles…maybe even a dinosaur! And if you look closely, you will see sharp spines sticking out of its large, thick veins. Hardly an enjoyable meal for a giant reptile! But then again, maybe it didn’t care!
I did a little research and found that handling the Giant Gunnera can irritate the skin or cause an allergic reaction. Definitely a plant I don’t want to take up gardening with! There’s also another peculiarity about the plant, and that is the giant, elongated pine cone-like structures that grow out from the center of the plant. These are its flowers and they are giant in stature as well!
So next time you spot a Giant Gunnera, perhaps you’ll conjure up some images in your mind of giant, prehistoric lizards enjoying an afternoon meal of Dinosaur Food!
All photos property of Northwestphotos and Peggy Thompson