The Gunnera gallery

Images and an introduction to the plant family Gunneraceae

Gunnera are a remarable family of herbaceous plants, ranging from minute herbs of marshy dunes in Uruguay (Ostenigunnera) to the distinctive and enormous "Chilean rhubarb" species of the tropical South American subgenus Panke known from parks and botanical gardens through Europe and America. These pages feature some basic facts, some controversies and especially photos of Gunnera.

Charles Darwin described Gunnera as having "a very noble appearance" (see full quotation on the Panke page). 

Gunnera recently featured on the cover of The Botanical Review, in particular Gunnera insignis a large-leaved Mexican species, photographed in the Berkeley Botanic Garden. This issue included a long article assessing the evolutionary relationships with Gunnera and with other plant groups on the basis of morphology, and disputes other recent conclusions from genetic studies (see literature).

For a conventional botanical description of Gunneraceae and some classic 19th centruty illustrations from Maout and Decaisne 1867, see the DELTA description.

In recent years authorities (starting with Takhtajan 1997) have elevated Gunnera into its own order Gunnerales, which is also thought to include the aquatic family Myrothamnaceae on the basis of recent gene-based cladistic macro-phylogenies (see, e.g. the Angiopserm Phylogeny Group website). The recent morphological study argues for a close relationship with the Saxifragaceae family.