Herb: Sikkim Rhubarb

Latin name: Rheum nobile

Family: Polygonaceae (Buckwheat Family)

Medicinal use of Sikkim Rhubarb:

The root is astringent, carminative, depurative, diuretic, purgative and tonic. Small doses act as an astringent tonic to the digestive system, whilst larger doses act as a mild laxative. The flowering stem is used in Tibetan medicine, it is said to have a sour taste and a heating potency. It is antiemetic, diuretic and laxative. It is used in the treatment of swellings and fullness of the abdomen as well as to rid the body of retained fluids.

Description of the plant:


150 cm
(5 feet)

July to

Habitat of the herb:

Rock ledges around 4000 metres. Open slopes to 4500 metres.

Edible parts of Sikkim Rhubarb:

Leaf stem - raw or cooked. Pleasantly acid, this is a commonly used vegetable where it grows wild.

Propagation of the herb:

Seed - best sown in autumn in a shaded cold frame. The seed can also be sown in spring in a cold frame. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse or cold frame for their first winter, planting them out in the spring. Division in early spring or autumn. Divide up the rootstock with a sharp spade or knife, making sure that there is at least one growth bud on each division. Larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found that it is better to pot up the smaller divisions and grow them on in light shade in a cold frame until they are well established before planting them out in late spring or early summer.

Cultivation of Sikkim Rhubarb:

Rock ledges around 4000 metres. Open slopes to 4500 metres.

Known hazards of Rheum nobile:

Although no specific mention has been seen for this species, the leaves of some if not all members of this genus contain significant quantities of oxalic acid and should not be eaten in any quantity. Oxalic acid can lock up certain minerals in the body, especially calcium, leading to nutritional deficiency. The content of oxalic acid will be reduced if the plant is cooked. People with a tendency to rheumatism, arthritis, gout, kidney stones or hyperacidity should take especial caution if including this plant in their diet since it can aggravate their condition.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.