A truly monstrous Jurassic looking plant, Chilean Gunnera, known as nalca in Chile, is also a wonderful edible plant! One hot afternoon hitchhiking from a remote area in Los Lagos to Osorno our drive pulled over in front of a giant Chilean Gunnera, cut a young stalk off, stripped the slightly spiky skin off with the blade of his knife, sprinkled some salt on the fleshy green stem and offered it to us. Delicious! Sometimes called dinosaur food due to its massive textured leaves that can reach up to 6′ across, it is the preferred food source of the Underground Spirtual Alligator.
Latin Name: Gunnera tinctoria
Site and Soil: Gunnera prefers half to full day sun with moist soils. Does very well planted on the edge of a pond.
Pollination Requirements: Self-fertile, may spread aggressively in certain climates but seems to be well-behaved enough here in North America
Hardiness: Hardy to about 5º F. but should re-sprout from roots at lower temperatures.
Bearing Age: 1-2 years after planting
Size at Maturity: 5-8 ft. tall
Pests & Diseases: Gunnera is not bothered by pests or diseases.
USDA Zone: USDA Zone 7, possibly root hardy in Zone 6