Gunnera tinctoria is a large, clump-forming, herbaceous plant that grows up to 2m in height. It has stout horizontal rhizomes, and massive umbrella-sized leaves with an exotic tropical appearance. The leaves and their stems are covered in rubbery prickles. Tiny green flowers occur in early summer on conical spikes. The young leaf stalks can be peeled and cooked as a vegetable or eaten raw.
In severe winter conditions the plant dies down for the winter and grows new leaves in spring.