Difference between: rhubarb and Swiss chard

Rhubarb and Swiss chard – they’re both leafy red stalks of vegetables. So, what’s the difference?

swiss-chard-1580676_1280

Although I don’t set out to make the Difference Between posts a competition, inevitably sometimes there’s a winner. And this is one of those times.

Definitions:

  • Rhubarb: any of several plants belonging to the genus Rheum, of the buckwheat family, as R. officianle, having a medicinal rhizome, and R. rhabarbarum, having edible leafstalks; the edible, fleshy leafstalks of R. rhabarbarum, used in making pies, preserves, etc.
  • Swiss chard (redirected to chard): a variety of beet, Beta vulgaris cicla, having leaves and leafstalks that are used as a vegetable; also called Swiss chard, leaf beat.

From the definitions we don’t learn too much, other than rhubarb is often utilized as a fruit, while Swiss chard is more vegetable-like, related to the beet family. Although not specified above, Swiss chard is also often compared to spinach.

In fact, there are several different varieties of Swiss chard, two of which could be confused for rhubarb: rainbow and ruby red. Rainbow Swiss chard is sometimes red, and ruby red Swiss chard is always red; ruby red is also called (appropriately) rhubarb Swiss chard.

Swiss chard has a darker, more vein-y leaf. It fits into the spinach and other greens category.

Rhubarb’s leaves are not as vibrant of a green, and furthermore, they cannot be eaten. Although both rhubarb and Swiss chard contain oxalic acid, the leaves of rhubarb contain significant enough amounts that it can be fatal.

Taste-wise, rhubarb is highly tart and acidic, which is why it’s typically combined with a sweet fruit, such as strawberries, in a pie. Swiss chard is compared to spinach, as mentioned before, but it’s generally considered to be better tasting, with a meaty, earthy flavor, according to Vegetables Revised.

Nutrition-wise, Swiss chard by far comes out on top. World’s Healthiest Foods (which does not even include rhubarb in their extensive list) explains that: “Calorie for calorie Swiss chard is one of the most nutritious vegetables around.”

Moreover, Swiss chard contains high levels of vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, C, E, and K; outstanding phytonutrient antioxidants; anti-inflammatory enzymes; calcium; and magnesium.

Comparatively, rhubarb, as described by RhubarbInfo.com, contains a decent amount of potassium, small amounts of vitamins, and is rich in calcium, vitamin C, and dietary fiber. Although, the calcium is combined with the oxalic acid and is therefore not as easily absorbed by the body.

Clearly, we have our winner. Swiss chard is more flavorful and significantly more nutritious than rhubarb. Unless you’re making a pie, go with the Swiss chard.

Side note: While researching this post, I came across more than one person who had bought rhubarb instead of Swiss chard, or vice versa. In addition, there was a seed company who used the same picture for both vegetables.

16 thoughts on “Difference between: rhubarb and Swiss chard

  1. I can’t tell the difference, so when I see Swiss chard growing in our community garden, I leave it alone, plus I don’t know which parts are safe to eat on Swiss chard.

    Can you eat the stalks and the leaves?

  2. Chard, when sauteed tastes a lot like spinach. I stumbled on this sight because I bought rainbow chard and my husband thought it might be rhubarb and I really wasn’t sure what rhubarb tastes like when not mixed with sugar so being a nervous Nelly, I thought I’d investigate. Since we eat a lot of chard, I think it’s safe to say it was chard. I’m still kicking. For now.

  3. I have found that growing Swiss chard is very easy and the best thing is that since it can replace Spinach in most dishes, including Pizzas ( I just cut the center harder stem out and use the leafy portion); and it is perennial (atleast here in California). It comes back time after time on its own. Really a useful vegetable to grow.

  4. Oh gosh all of a sudden this large leafed plant shows up in my yard resembling rubarb . how do I find out what it is for sure. It has reddish stalks, not bright red. My husband keeps saying its a weed but being a novice Gardner I know that it is not. I hate to waste it.

    1. Look up burdock. That might be your look-alike. First year roots are edible when cooked and parts of the leaf can be used for skin relief. But don’t trust me. Look it up for yourself. I’m only trying to remember what I read. I’m not an authority what so ever.

  5. It’s important to note, however, that when you cook high oxalic acid foods like beet greens, swiss chard and spinach, you should boil them in a change of water and discard (or reuse) the water. You’ve extracted the oxalates in that change of water and you don’t want to eat them. That’s why you don’t want to just do a quick sauté and you especially don’t want to eat them raw!

  6. Why on earth would you tell people to not eat swiss chard or spinach raw?? There’s absolutely no reason to be scaring people like that, and eating them raw (and especially freshly-picked) is certainly one of the best ways to consume them. Have you ever seen a spinach salad made from boiled spinach?? Of course not. Good grief, the nonsense some people write…

    1. Love that amswer, as I got scared by the previous comment and when reading yours I thought, of course, makes so much sense!

  7. Rhubarb and swiss chard are like oranges and pigs, they simply do not compare, they are totally different things! They are in different botanical families, they are grown in different ways, and used for completely different culinary purposes, swiss chard as a vegetable, rhubarb as fruit! Jeez! What sort of comparison is that?? How can you say “go with swiss chard”? That depends on what you are cooking!! I sure dont want swiss chard with my strawberries! Please, let us be real.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *