Gunnera tinctoria

Scientific name: Gunnera tinctoria

Author: (Molina) Mirb. [G. chilensis Lam.]

Common name: Nalca, Panque

Family: Gunneraceae


Gunnera tinctoria   


On the eastern shore of the large pond, tucked in toward the waterfall you will find our feature plant.

Recently a very good ‘Friend of The Gardens’ travelled from Sydney to Mount Tomah to see this plant. The leaves, which die in the cold, had been cut back neatly leaving prostrate stems with bulbous, soft brown, bract-clad structures, reminiscent of the centre of a cycad from which new leaves will arise in the spring. Rising vertically from the stems were large inflorescence spikes covered in as-yet-unripe fruits. Our ‘Friend’ was ecstatic! Never before had she had the opportunity to see in real life the plant structure under those ferocious leaves and the camera clicked on. Her optimism and fresh approach was inspiring and certainly it would be difficult to study the plant structure with the prickly oversized, rhubarb-like leaves present.

Our plants came from seed wild collected at a forest margin in Chile in 1985, the progeny having been planted out in 1987. Gunnera is listed in our thematic plan as a Southern Hemisphere Gondwanan plant group whose members are cool growing cushion bog dwellers. For the most part these species are small strawberry-like, non-prickly plants only obvious when in fruit. G. manicata from Southern Brazil and Colombia and our handsome plant of the week from Chile are similar in size and appearance and are certainly never insignificant.