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Turkey Rhubarb

Rheum palmatum LINN

(written and contributed by professional incense maker, Nathaniel Musselman)


Description: Turkey rhubarb root (Rheum palmatum) is a traditional Japanese incense ingredient. The roots are thick, oval shaped with long tapering rootlets. The interior is a deep, dark yellow color and the exterior is brown. The roots produce a strong fruit-sweet potato-yam scent when burned. Rhubarb root is great for adding a sweet note to your incense, and it will help round out a blend with aggressive components like patchouli, clove, etc. Turkey rhubarb root is readily available from many herbalists or may be garden grown if you live in the right area.

It is important to note that Turkey Rhubarb is a different species of Rheum than the common garden rhubarb, however garden rhubarb roots can be used for incense! Garden rhubarb is considered a milder derivative of Turkey rhubarb and R. officinale.

If you decide to use your own grown rhubarb root, be sure you have a species with dark yellow interior roots. (It is recommended that rhubarb root be harvested in early Spring or Fall after 4-6 years of growth.) Be sure to wash the roots after harvesting, removing all dirt or foreign matter, and completely dry the root before usage or storage. Poorly dried rootstock will spoil in storage and excess moisture can cause mold or fungus growth and attract parasites. (For large fleshy root pieces, use of a food dehydrator may be necessary to thoroughly dry the root.) Whole dried rhubarb root is easily ground with an electric or hand crank grinder.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) da huang (dah-hwong) refers to the yellow color of rhubarb root.

Here is an interesting excerpt from The Complete Illustrated Encyclopedia of Magical Plants by Susan Gregg :
"Turkey Rhubarb was used as an amulet during the Black Plague to protect the wearer from getting the plague.  Today, you can wear it in an amulet to protect against illness and help release negative thinking. To purify your home and raise the spiritual vibrations, sprinkle some of the dried root in the rooms of your home or add it to your cleaning water. Put a piece of the root on your altar before you do any ceremonies to manifest abundance, and then bury it afterward to release your fears. If you are having a lot of fears about the future, sleep with a root under your bed for a month and then bury it in a sacred location."

Family: Polygonaceae

Synonyms: Turkey Rhubarb, Chinese Rhubarb, East Indian Rhubarb, Chinese - ・スj・ス・スda huang, Japanese - ・スj・ス・ス dai�t. Also known as jiang jun, chuan jun, jing wen, chuan da huan, Korean - taehwang, Cantonese - dai wong

Origin: E. Asia to N.W. China in Yunnan, W. Sichuan, E. Xizang and Gansu

Parts Used: roots

Aroma Description: fruity, like sweet potatoes or yam

Emotional Attributes: cleansing/purifying, love

Cosmetic Uses: hair dyes are made from a root decoction

Culinary Uses: stems are used to make sweets, desserts, sauces, salads, etc.

Medicinal Attributes: Rhubarb leaves contain toxic substances, including oxalic acid which is a nephrotoxic acid. The roots are used as a digestive astringent and purgative laxative. Etc. Pharmaceutical name: Radix et Rhizoma Rhei

Element Association: Water

Magical Associations: protection, prosperity

Astrological Association: Scorpio

Planetary Association: Mars

Season: Spring

Aromatic Note: middle note

Essential Oil: none

Mixes Well With: aloeswood, benzoin, camphor, cinnamon, clove, ginger, lemongrass, licorice, patchouli, pine, sandalwood, star anise, etc.

(Click here for more rhubarb information: and Ibiblio)

*This monograph was written and contributed by professional incense maker, Nathaniel Musselman. You can find him in our Discussion Forum.

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Medical Disclaimer: Information on this web site is for entertainment purposes only. This information is NOT intended as medical advice or for use as diagnosis or treatment of a health problem or as a substitute for consulting a licensed medical professional.

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