Turkey Rhubarb


Jon simply says, “Was he really called Dan, or did it just rhyme, that’s what I’d like to know?”

I’ve not much to add to this short and sweet little number, except Tim and Maddy’s notes are on Mainly Norfolk. They are a little misleading as Turkey Rhubarb is actually something different from the common variety that we are familiar with in tarts and other puddings. It’s a powerful medicinal plant, much prized in Chinese medicine, although its dual use as a treatment for constipation and diarrhoea seems most curious. It’s all in the dosage apparently, although if it’s the latter you’re down with , you just have to hope they get it right.


26 Responses to “Turkey Rhubarb”

  1. Patrick Rose says:

    I liked this one.

    *puts on to learn list*

  2. Muzza (s.e.England) says:

    Having read Simon’s notes, I had the feeling that Dan was going to sing many more verses for us but had to dash away for some reason!

  3. Rachel says:

    Great gig last night, Jon. Thank you for singing all my favourite songs. 😀

  4. Shelley says:

    Why is such a short song such a persistent earworm?

  5. Neil says:

    What a delightful little song, took me longer to download it than listen to it!

  6. Rosie says:

    Love this . Will be singing it all day !

  7. Paul A. says:

    Shelley: Clearly this is evidence that the art of the catchy advertising jingle goes back further than most people think.

  8. Jane Ramsden says:

    Turkey rhubarb (Rheum Palmatum) is a large dock plant cited in the Yorkshire Federation of Women’s Institute cookbook, ‘Through Yorkshire’s Kitchen Door,’ as part of a cure for indigestion: full recipe = half oz. turkey rhubarb, half oz ground ginger, half oz bicarb. of soda, one oz magnesia: mix well together, dose half teaspoonful in a little water before each meal.

    HISTORY & USES: This plant has a long history beginning in China. It obtained the name Turkey Rhubarb from the route it took in exporting. The Chinese used this root in two different cases. If diarrhoea was present, small doses would help arrest it, and also help stimulate the appetite. This utilised the tannin and bitters inherent in the root.

    In the case of constipation, larger doses were employed. Here the anthraquinones and their strong irritating factor to the digestive tract is used. The root’s actions are so powerful, than when used for diarrhoea, it can cause intense cramping. It is an ingredient in many Chinese formulas. More recently, it may be found of benefit in those with diabetic neuropathy. It may play a part in decreasing blood glucose, improve symptoms associated with severe kidney compromise.

    NB For those who want to rush off and try this remedy, only the root of the plant is used medicinally. The leaves are poisonous due to their high oxalic acid content.

  9. Maureen Musson says:

    I’m sure I read somewhere (but can’t find where) that Turkey Rhubarb was also considered an aphrodisiac. Somebody (possibly Mike Waterson or Martin Carthy) joked that in that case, if you took it, you wouldn’t know if you were coming or going!

  10. Muzza(s.e.England) says:

    @Maureen….I took those devils at their word…..it has played havoc with my love-life!

  11. Jenny says:

    This is used in the recipe for Essiac, the native american cure for cancer made famous by Rene Caisse.

  12. Deb Collins says:

    I am teaching a Cornish tune titled, ‘Turkey Rhubarb,’ in a Beginning Celtic Fiddle Course. Is there any relation with this ‘Song?’ And if so, are there dance steps and/or a video of such? I live in the U.S. and do not know where to find this. Thanks for any assistance.
    Deb Collins

  13. Diana says:

    Short but sweet. I think I will stick to the rhubarb grown in the garden rather than the Turkish variety – sounds safer.

  14. Muzza(N.W.Surrey. UK) says:

    Rhubarb,Rhubarb,Rhubarb 😳 must try not to cough for a while.

  15. Jane Ramsden says:

    Muzza, you are incorrigible! Obviously too much of that Italian suppository – innuendo… HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

  16. Muzza(N.W.Surrey. UK) says:

    Ref Jane comment(sermon) 8 above…..paragraph 3 of
    “The comment from the mountain by Jane the apostle to the folksongadaydians”

    What a wonderful new insult to add to my repertoire……..

    “Well old chap I think you are an utter anthraquinone!”
    i.e. (strong irritating factor to the digestive tract)

  17. Diana says:

    It certainly is a wonderful insult Muzza, that is if you can manage to say it and keep a straight face. Is it “quin-one” or “quin-own-knee” after the “anthra”.

  18. Jane Ramsden says:

    It’s ‘anthra-quin-own,’ Diana.

    Muzzy, I think you are back to not daring to cough agin with your innuendo! Hahaha!

  19. Diana says:

    Thanks Jane I was too lazy to look it up in the dictionary last night. But as you know a lot of words can be pronounced in different ways and it’s hard when one is not speaking to someone to describe same.

  20. Muzza (N.W.Surrey-UK) says:

    Well Joe..thanks for that………I think I’ll stick with the constipation having read of the OTHER side effects of Bertha’s Mussels as per the following:-
    By John Roberts about Bertha’s Mussels on Fells Point in
    Eat Bertha’s mussels, they’re the best there is by far
    You can eat them in the dining room, you can eat them in the bar
    So when you’re ashore in Baltimore and you fancy a bite to eat
    Just follow your nose to Bertha’s, you’ll be in for a rare old treat

    Now a sailor came to Bertha’s with a problem most severe
    His manly pride had atrophied from a voyage of forty years
    A couple of plates of mussels, now he sings in a different key
    His jib boom’s set right, he’ll be in there tonight, and he’ll
    never go back to sea.

    Now a lady came to Bertha’s, who wanted a daughter or a son
    The doctors had said with a shake of the head that she couldn’t
    have either one
    So she ate a plate of mussels and went home to her husband dear
    She tuned up his cryth, and I’ll tell you the truth, she had
    triplets the very same year.


    They will cure your diarrhea, cure your constipation, too.
    Just swallow a box for the chicken pox, the measles or the flu.
    Now, if you fancy a healthy life, get your daily doses straight
    A plate a day of Bertha’s mussels, and you’ll live ’til you’re 98.

  21. Diana says:

    Oh really! I will take that under advisement Muzza!

  22. Old Muzza(N.W surrey.UK) says:

    Not even ten plates of Bertha’s mussels work these days!…..pass the Turkey Rhubarb….

  23. Diana says:

    Short and sweet.

  24. OldMuzza(NWSurrey UK) says:

    Anthraquinone……..see above..
    Just gotta bring that into every day conversation ….perhaps..today!

  25. OldMuzza(NW Surrey UK) says:

    Anthraquinone…….Forget using it as an insult…when you get to my age the Doc sends you a letter saying that’s his latest diagnosis of your condition!…damn rhubarb!!

  26. Linda says:

    Muzza have sent e card to you dont think you have picked up yet.

    Saw Spiers n Boden at Buxton on St Pats day brilliant as usual….

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