Know your Globe Artichokes

  • The Globe Artichoke (Cynara cardunculus) is a perennial thistle originating in Southern Europe around the Mediterranean. 

  • It grows to 1.5–2 m tall, with arching, deeply lobed, silvery glaucous-green leaves 50–82 cm long. 

  • The flowers develop in a large head from an edible bud about 8–15 cm diameter with numerous triangular scales; the individual florets are purple. 

  • Globe Artichokes are a gourmet treat, and are very popular in the Mediterranean regions. 

  • The edible portion of the buds consists primarily of the fleshy lower portions of the involucral bracts and the base, known as the "heart"; the mass of immature florets in the center of the bud is called the "choke". 

  • The best part of all is the heart. These are inedible in older larger flowers.

  • We can eat the fleshy base of the 'scales' dipped in butter and sauté the hearts as a delicious appetiser. 

  • Artichokes are perennial architectural plants, looking very stately and spectacular at the back of a mixed border in your garden, as well as being grown for the edible flowers on your allotment. 

  • First year plants grown from seed will sometimes only produce two or three heads, established plants can produce twenty to thirty heads each season.

  • Some years you may get a second crop in late autumn. 

  • To encourage this; leave the small secondary heads on the plant at harvest time.