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What is Gunnera Tinctoria?

If you’ve been to Chile you might have seen the gunnera tinctoria plant being sold by some people in town, selling them as a long stem plant. They call it here Nalca.

This is a Chilean rhubarb is native to the southern parts of Chile and its limits with Argentina. It’s known in most of the world as an ornamental plant that is also edible. It is a plant with large leaves that can grow up to 2 meters tall. The leaves can grow to be 2.5 meters wide. Its flowers grow in clusters on a cone shaped stem that points upward and can grow to be 1 meter tall. It flowers during spring through summer and the fruit is orange.

The eatable part of the gunnera tinctoria is the stem of the plant. This is what you see selling in the streets, without the leaves. When you buy a nalca you will see the seller peel the first layer of the plant and pass it to you with a bit of salt.

You’ll see that the middle part is white and the outer layers are pink. He will tell you to put some salt one it and bite away. The taste is a sour taste, kind of like when you eat lemon with salt, only that it’s crunchy. So if you’re the kind of person that like’s sour things then you would probably like this.

If it tastes bitter then the plant hasn’t ripened enough to eat yet. It’s a very different taste for those who like sour things so don’t put it off if it’s a bit bitter, you just got a piece that isn’t ripe, but if you try a ripe piece you’ll see that taste is worth it.

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