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I had a surprise rhubarb plant pop up 2 years after moving into my house, and was looking forward to harvesting it until it started flowering.

my rhubarb plant showing a bud my rhubarb plant showing a flower

I've heard that bolting can affect the taste of lettuce for the worse (though I've never tested that theory.) Is the same true for rhubarb? And if it is a problem, what should I do next year if I see a flower developing?

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  • +1 for showing me a new thing. Never seen rhubarb flower.
    – Boba Fit
    Commented Jun 7, 2023 at 14:57
  • Normally the flower stalks are removed . they draw nutrients from the plant. Commented Jun 10, 2023 at 16:17

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I don't recall any significant detriment to the flavor of rhubarb from bolting - rhubarb is not lettuce. Most lettuce does turn more bitter when flowering. Last I sampled my bolting kale (from which I'm trying to get seeds, so I'm happy to have it bolt) it was still fine, but I haven't checked that in a few weeks. (Update - my kale is still edible - perhaps a slight impact on the flavor.)

I mean, it's possible the leaves may change, but since eating rhubarb leaves is toxic to people anyway, not a change in flavor I'd notice, as I'm not eating them in any case.

You can just cut the flower stalk off (now, or as soon as you notice it next year,) unless you happen to be interested in seeing it flower.

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