Why? Because rhubarb is a metaphor for the dedicated, stubborn life, growing where little else of value will. Bad climate, lots of waste from wool industry waste known as "shoddy", but good roads for transport. See Fool's Paradise, on our US paper edition, The Rhubarb Ruse, at http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/2/2db41de4-4c88-11e1-b1b5-00144feabdc0.html#axzz1nV2gxhkV.
What else but rhubarb: it takes a ruse. Kid the plant into thinking spring has sprung. Leave the root out during fall; let it feel the sharp frost. Then take it indoors where it is warmer, and it will think it is okay to grow. Or, if it is too mild, apply an acid. See details.
Rhubarb poisoning. Do not eat leaves. We did, nice and chopped and sauteed, but it did not taste tastey. Hop on the internet: poison. Rhubarb info, poison! Fast to poison control at the drugstore, call Poison Central. Everybody fine. Noone seems to post the antidote process, so just remember to call.