Plant Spotlight on Artichoke

Artichoke (Cynara scolymus)

Artichokes are actually an unbloomed flower, or the flower bud, of the artichoke plant and is native to the Canary Islands. Artichokes are ornamental edibles and, if left alone, will develop into a gorgeous violet-purple flower that bees will adore. One of the oldest foods known to mankind, artichokes are full of protein, fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.  

In optimal conditions, the artichoke plant can spread over 6-feet across. It makes an interesting statement plant mixed in a loose and cottage-like garden and fits well in a Mediterranean garden. Nearly 100% of all artichokes are grown in California as a commercial crop.


All About the Artichoke (Cynara scolymus)

Also known as: Cynara cardunculus, Scolymus Group, Chards, French Artichoke, Globe Artichoke, Green artichoke

Plant Description: Globe artichoke has beautiful jagged, deeply-serrate, foliage. Held above the basal foliage early in the season are thistle-like flowers. The vegetable itself is the flower bud, picked before the flower is able to develop into full bloom. Buds will be continually produced in warmer climates; however, the larger crop will be created early in the season. When planting flower flower-value, expect the thistle-like flowers to be nearly 7-inches wide and violet in color.

Plant Type: Herbaceous perennial

Sun/Shade: Full sun

Cultivation: Grows well as an annual or perennial in organically rich, well-drained soils. Will function as a perennial in zones 7 – 10. Mulch well in cooler zones and propagate by dividing the roots. Prefers full sun and a protected area where strong winds will not topple the plant.  Does not appreciate extreme heat.

Height: 3 to 5 feet (.91 to 1.5 meters)

Width: 2 to 3 feet (.60 to .91 meters)

Bloom: Violet

Bloom Time: Seasonal

Origin: Canary Islands

Zones: Zone 7, zone 8, zone 9, zone 10

Wildlife: Bees

Landscape Uses: Ornamental edible landscapes, Mediterranean gardens, cut flower gardens, agricultural production, mixed beds, herb gardens

Special Features: Castroville, California is known as the current Artichoke Capital of the World. Marilyn Monroe was declared in 1949 the very first California Artichoke Queen. It is believed that the modern artichoke is a domesticated variety of Cynara cardunculus, known as the Wild Cardoon.

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