By David Marks
Rhubarb is one of those vegetables where the particular variety grown is not so important as with other vegetables.The two key differences between varietiesis firstly the colour of the stalks and then how early or late they are produced. Many varieties of rhubarb nowadays are red in colour and they hold this throughout the cooking process. The colour is purely aesthetic and has no effect on the taste. In truth a few drops of red food colouring in with a green rhubarb does exactly the same job. The second main difference is the time of cropping, from first earlies to maincrop later in the season.

If you want to see rhubarb plants before you buy then we suggest you visit the National Collection which is atRHS Wisley which has just over 100 different varieties.RHS Harlow Carr also have an excellent collection of rhubarb plants. Wakefield host a festival each year with rhubarb very much at the centre,click here for details of the next festival.


In our opinion this variety is over-rated although it does have one redeeming quality and that is the deep red colour of the stalks. Taste and texture is about average. Cawood Delight is not a strong grower however and you would need a couple of plants of this variety to get the same yield as one plant of The Sutton.


Another old variety, The Sutton rhubarb was raised by a Mr Daws of London and first sold in 1895. This is a mid-season variety producing edible stalks any time between mid May to early June depending on where you live. Although the stalks don’t grow straight and they are mix of red and green, this variety is believed by many to be the best tasting rhubarb.

It produces a good number of moderately thick stems regularly each year. Widely available at garden centres and from online suppliers.


Very red stalks, this variety reliably produces a good crop. Available from the RHS.


A firm favourite variety of rhubarb for many years, it was first introduced to the UK in 1837 by Joseph Myatt. Reliable and produces good thick stems. This is one of the best looking of all rhubarb with a deep red stem at the base turning greener towards the top. The taste is delicious although it can be slightly bitter
compared to the very best, When cooked it has a stringless texture. The stems are produced slightly later in the season on this well established and pest free variety. A good choice if you like to force rhubarb for an early season crop. It crops later than most varieties if not forced.


Bred by H. Marshland and first sold in 1945 to be very early (even without forcing) and especially good if you want to force your rhubarb. Long, red and thinner than normal stalks. Good taste and very sweet so be careful when adding sugar to recipes using this variety.

Available from Jacksons Nurseries online, click here.


Sometimes our readers ask specific questions which are not covered in the main article above. Our
Rhubarb comment / question and answer page
lists their comments, questions and answers. At the end of that page there is also a form for you to submit any new question or comment you have.