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Helianthus tuberosus

Phonetic Spelling
heel-ee-AN-thus too-ber-OH-sus
This plant is an invasive species in North Carolina
Description

Jerusalem artichoke, (also called Sunchoke, or Sunroot) is an herbaceous perennial root vegetable in the sunflower family. It is grown for showy, late blooming, yellow sunflowers, or as an edible in the vegetable garden. The original native region is thought to be north from Canada to Georgia, and west to Arkansas and Tennessee, however, this plant has currently established itself in all but five states.

Grow in full to part sun. This is a tall bushy (6-10' x 5'wide) plant that may require some staking or protection from strong wind. Average, dry to medium moisture is required; however, this plant is best with consistent moisture. Mulch to conserve moisture. Jerusalem artichoke will tolerate most soil types as long as they are well drained, but is happiest in slightly alkaline soils (7-7.5). Heavy clay soils prone to waterlogging will reduce yields. It does not tolerate deep shade or maritime exposure. Appearance tends to be weedy. Trim back after bloom time, August-October, or leave seeds as a treat for the birds. The seeds are especially attractive to finches. Tubers may be planted in early spring. Similar to potatoes, whole tubers or pieces of tuber with at least two to three strong buds should be planted. Do not allow the pieces of tuber to dry out before planting.

Fresh Jerusalem artichoke tubers are edible, and are similar in texture to water chestnuts with a nutty flavor. They may be boiled, mashed, roasted like potatoes, or eaten raw. The knobby tubers are harvested in the fall approximately two weeks after the flowers fade (October-December). There are health benefits associated with Jerusalem artichokes. The tubers do not contain starch like potatoes, instead they do contain inulin. Inulin converts to fructose, and may be tolerated better by diabetics. Additional benefits may include lowering blood pressure, reduction of blood sugar levels, and heart health. Ideal for bird gardens, butterfly gardens, pollinator gardens, back of the perennial borders, or naturalized areas. Most areas of North Carolina are suitable for growing Jerusalem artichoke. The edible tubers look like a cross between and Irish potato and a ginger root. They are commercially grown in the northeast and north central United States. Generally, it is not suitable for commercial growing in the south.

Jerusalem artichoke is not an artichoke, nor has it any connection with the city of Jerusalem, Israel. The genus name comes from the Greek words helios meaning sun and anthos meaning flower. The species is from the Latin meaning tuberous in obvious reference to the edible underground tubers. Jerusalem artichoke is sometimes confused with Globe artichoke (Cynara scolymus); however, Globe artichoke is not adapted to North Carolina, and the edible portion of the plant is the globular flower.

Jerusalem artichoke has the potential to become a weed problem. It spreads by rhizome, and is self-seeding to form colonies. Once established in the garden it may be difficult to remove. Any tiny piece of the plant left in the soil will sprout new plants.

Diseases, Insect Pests, and Other Plant Problems:

Slugs and swift moths may eat holes in the tubers. Consistent weeding and moisture control may help prevent damage. This plant has few pesticides labeled for it. Rust, leaf fungal spots and powdery mildew occur frequently.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Vegetable No-Till Garden
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#wildlife plant#herbaceous perennials#hairy leaves#larval host plant#butterfly friendly#pollinator garden#native edible#perennial vegetables#silvery checkerspot butterfly
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#wildlife plant#herbaceous perennials#hairy leaves#larval host plant#butterfly friendly#pollinator garden#native edible#perennial vegetables#silvery checkerspot butterfly
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Helianthus
    Species:
    tuberosus
    Family:
    Asteraceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    First cultivation of this important food crop was by Native Americans. In the 1600’s tubers were taken to Europe where they were widely planted.
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Root Cutting
    Seed
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Eastern North America
    Distribution:
    Currently found in every state except Hawaii, Alaska, New Mexico, Nevada, and Arizona
    Wildlife Value:
    Songbirds eat the seeds. Butterflies love the flowers that provide nectar to pollinators from July until the first frost. Larval host plant for Silvery Checkerspot (Chlosyne nycteis) that has 1 to 2 broods in the north from June to July. In the deep south and Texas, they have as many as 3 to 4 broods from May through September.
    Play Value:
    Attracts Pollinators
    Wildlife Food Source
    Wildlife Larval Host
    Edibility:
    Root tubers are edible raw or cooked and they resemble ginger root. They contain a high amount of inulin fiber.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 6 ft. 0 in. - 10 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 3 ft. 0 in. - 5 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Edible
    Herbaceous Perennial
    Native Plant
    Vegetable
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Erect
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Coarse
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    High Organic Matter
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Occasionally Dry
    Available Space To Plant:
    3 feet-6 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    3a, 3b, 4a, 4b, 5b, 5a, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9b, 9a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Description:
    Seeds ripen in November.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Head
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Fall
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Radial
    Flower Petals:
    7 - 20 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    3-6 inches
    Flower Description:
    Yellow sunflower heads 2 to 4 inches consisting of 12 to 20 showy, petal-like rays, 1 1/2 inches long surrounding a yellow center disk of tiny darker yellow disk florets. Blossoms August to September. Attracts butterflies, seed heads attract song birds.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Rough
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Opposite
    Leaf Shape:
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Dentate
    Serrate
    Hairs Present:
    Yes
    Leaf Length:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Opposite, rough hairy leaves 4 to 8 inches long and 2 to 4 inches wide growing smaller s they go up the stem. Lower leaves are typically opposite but upper leaves are typically alternate. Rough, ovate, serrate-dentate leaves along main stem on winged petioles.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Green
    Red/Burgundy
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Cross Section:
    Round
    Stem Surface:
    Hairy (pubescent)
    Stem Description:
    Rough-hairy, branched near the top stems which rise to 6 to 10 feet.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Naturalized Area
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Cutting Garden
    Edible Garden
    Native Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Design Feature:
    Border
    Attracts:
    Butterflies
    Pollinators
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Drought
    Dry Soil
    Poor Soil
    Problems:
    Invasive Species
    Weedy