Science Focus - the home of BBC Science Focus Magazine
Why can't you put rhubarb leaves on the compost heap? © iStock

Why can't you put rhubarb leaves on the compost heap?

Subscribe to BBC Science Focus Magazine and get 6 issues for just £9.99

It turns out you can! While we don't advise eating rhubarb leaves, it turns out that you can compost them; we explain why here.

Asked by: Chai Jin, Poole


Rhubarb leaves contain oxalic acid, which is corrosive and a kidney toxin, but this has no significant effect on soil micro-organisms. The leaves will decompose perfectly well as the amount of oxalic acid is low and the molecule doesn't survive well outside of the plant cells. Eating plants grown in rhubarb-leaf compost is also perfectly safe.


Subscribe to BBC Focus magazine for fascinating new Q&As every month and follow @sciencefocusQA on Twitter for your daily dose of fun science facts.


luis villazon
Luis VillazonQ&A expert

Luis trained as a zoologist, but now works as a science and technology educator. In his spare time he builds 3D-printed robots, in the hope that he will be spared when the revolution inevitably comes.


Sponsored content