Alexis authored today’s entry:
The use of rhubarb can be traced back as early as 2700 BC in China, when the dried roots of Rheum officinale and Rheum palmatum were used as a laxative. The species Rheum rhabarbarum, native to Mongolia and surrounding regions, was first cultivated in England in 1573. Though initially cultivated for its medicinal properties, by the eighteenth century it had been subject to (additional?) hybridization, and the hybrid’s leaf stalks became a desirable food. All parts of the plant contain oxalic acid, and the leaves themselves are poisonous to people and animals if ingested in large amounts.
There are many cultivars of rhubarb, differing from each other by properties such as colour, size, and acidity level. Phillips & Rix’s Vegetables (1993) served as a valuable reference for this entry.