Gunnera and Brunnera

Gunnera is like giant rhubarb and grows into a forest of huge leaves and stalks (it dies down in autumn and sprouts up again in spring). Brunnera is much more restrained with lovely sprays of forget-me-not flowers. When we walked through Bannerman Park near where we live on 02 Nov 2018, we found both of these plants in close proximity and appreciated how well they complement each other.

Bannerman Park, Gore, Southland, New Zealand






GUNNERA : Last year I published three posts about the wonderful gunnera at Dunedin Botanic Garden – early spring, late spring, autumn and late winter. Clicking on this link will display all three posts.

PS. in response to Steve Schwartman’s comment, added 08 Nov 2018

This is an example of a small native NZ gunnera, photo taken by Nigel at Dunedin Botanic Garden in mid-April 2017 (autumn). Looks very eye-catching while in flower.

Gunnera proprepens.   *Click on the photo to enlarge*

Gunnera prorepens still flowering dbot 17April17_1300w

Text by Liz, Photos by Liz and Nigel; Exploring Colour (2018)
Photo credits: Liz took photos 1 and 4. Nigel took photos 2, 3 and 5

12 thoughts on “Gunnera and Brunnera

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  1. This gunnera, Chilean Rhubarb is certainly a dramatic garden plant but it’s a bit of a weed up here in the North. It’s popping up in unwanted places in the wild especially in high rainfall areas and wetlands. I guess conditions here are not unlike those in it’s natural habitat.

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    1. The garden forget-me-not is Myosotis sylvatica and has some yellow in the flowers as well. But Brunnera macrophylla (that I showed above) does look very similar and one common name is “great forget-me-not”. Brunnera is a really nice plant for full or part-shade and you can get other foliage colours as well. Take a look at to see some photos of other cultivars with different foliage. Here we also have a native forget-me-not type flower from the Chatham Islands that has wonderful foliage – see this previous post (photos 4 and 5)

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    1. What I’ve shown isn’t native but I don’t know exactly which species. I’ve added an example of a native gunnera that’s in flower and its very pretty, a bright splash of red, when in flower. You barely notice it the rest of the time. Its now at the bottom of my post for you to see, Nigel took the photo last year when we were impressed to see it at the Dunedin Botanic Gardens. Re the big gunnera types – I found a page at Weedbusters, a NZ site, that lists a problem large gunnera here – Gunnera tinctoria but also mentions another is a problem in some areas – Gunnera manicata. At: – Liz


      1. Thanks for adding that picture of a native species. That certainly would’ve attracted me if I’d come across it during my last visit. You’ve rightly called it a big splash of red.

        I’m sorry that the South American species has become a nuisance in NZ.

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