Benjamin Franklin. We know him for many things. Did you know that he also introduced rhubarb to America?

When he was representing the American colonies as an ambassador in London, her sent a crate of rhubarb to his friend John Bartram. John Bartram was also responsible for introducing kohlrabi and poinsettias to America.

Rhubarb is a plant that is native to central Asia, but plants had been introduced in Europe by traders. The rhubarb that Franklin sent to America had come to London from Siberia.

I think of rhubarb as something my grandmother and my mother grow in the garden and used in applesauce and mixed into a wonderful strawberry rhubarb pie.

Until I did a bit of research, I didn’t realize that Siberian rhubarb extract is sold as a natural remedy with claims that it helps with “sleep disturbances, irritability, anxiety, exhaustion, joint and muscle complaints, even women’s sexual problems.”

Rhubarb first appeared in American seed catalogs in 1829, and soon became a popular ingredient in pies.