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Artichoke Thistle Cynara cardunculus

Other Common Name(s):

Previously known as:

  • Cynara scolymus
Phonetic Spelling
SIN-ah-rah kar-DUNK-yoo-lus
Description

Cynara cardunculus has prickly, deeply cut, gray-green foliage and tall flower stalks topped with brilliant purple flowers.  While it is a perennial, it is often grown as half-hardy annual.  Annual plants may not have enough time to grow before flowering, but the large, jagged leaves provide ornamental interest all of its own.

Cardoons need rich, well-drained but moist soil and full sun to grow.  They may go dormant in hot summers and will die back in winter.  Mulch heavily to aid in winter survivability.  Considered weedy in some areas.  Be mindful of the spines along the stem, although spineless cultivars exist.

The flowers can be cut or dried and, while edible, are not considered as suitable for eating as Scolymus Group artichokes.  Instead, the leaf stalks and root are blanched, harvested, cooked, and eaten as a vegetable.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Vegetable Garden- Raised Beds
Cultivars / Varieties:
Scolymus Group
Tags:
#bees#purple#sun#full sun#small spaces#annual#perennial#container plant#purple flowers#vegetable garden#vegetable#edible garden#edible#container#container vegetable garden#butterflies#pollinators#pollinator garden#containers
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Scolymus Group
Tags:
#bees#purple#sun#full sun#small spaces#annual#perennial#container plant#purple flowers#vegetable garden#vegetable#edible garden#edible#container#container vegetable garden#butterflies#pollinators#pollinator garden#containers
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Cynara
    Species:
    cardunculus
    Family:
    Asteraceae
    Life Cycle:
    Annual
    Perennial
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Europe, Africa
    Wildlife Value:
    Flowers are attractive to pollinators.
    Play Value:
    Attractive Flowers
    Attracts Pollinators
    Edibility:
    Leaf stalks are blanched, harvested, and cooked as a vegetable. Roots may also be cooked and eaten.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Annual
    Edible
    Herbaceous Perennial
    Vegetable
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Columnar
    Erect
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Appendage:
    Prickles
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Soil Texture:
    High Organic Matter
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Available Space To Plant:
    3 feet-6 feet
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    7b, 7a, 8b, 8a, 9b, 9a, 10b, 10a
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Purple/Lavender
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Good Cut
    Good Dried
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Fall
    Flower Petals:
    7 - 20 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    > 6 inches
    Flower Description:
    Large, spiky, thistle-like flowers on tall stalks that bloom to bright purple. Edible like an artichoke, although of lesser quality.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Gray/Silver
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Prickly
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Showy
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Rosulate
    Leaf Margin:
    Lobed
    Serrate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Deeply cut, gray-green foliage with sharp prickles.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Green
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Description:
    Covered in small, sharp prickles; cultivars exist with smooth stems.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Container
    Landscape Theme:
    Edible Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Design Feature:
    Accent
    Border
    Attracts:
    Bees
    Butterflies
    Pollinators
    Problems:
    Spines/Thorns