WiseAcre Gardens

north of the adirondacks – wildflowers & perennials that survive winters colder than my wife's feet

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Posted by WiseAcre on Aug 3rd, 2010

Thistle Me This

2010
Aug 3

I doubt many northern gardeners will recognize this thistle. Can you guess what it is?

Artichoke flower

A few hints before I spill the beans:

  • It can be found in North Africa in it’s wild form.
  • It’s a short lived perennial that develops the edible flowers during the second and following years.
  • Cultivation is concentrated in the Mediterranean basin with Italy, Spain, and France being the main producers.
  • California provides nearly 100% of the U.S. crop.
  • A variety, ‘Imperial Star’ was developed for northern climates that will produce a limited harvest the first year.
  • An even newer variety, ‘Northern Star’ is said to overwinter in northern areas and able to survive sub-zero temperatures.
  • It can be grown from seeds, divisions, root cuttings or micropropagation.
  • It’s the primary flavor of Cynar, a Italian liqueur.
  • In the Da Lat region of Vietnam it is used to produce a commercial tea.

This should give it away:
Artichoke flower

Yep, it’s an Artichoke

I have no clue what variety this one is. My wife bought some from a greenhouse last year. They all produced last season and this one survived the extremely mild winter we were fortunate to have. It didn’t grow very well this year but it did produce that great bloom.

9 Responses

  1. Tatyana Says:

    Very interesting! I give you a medal for the superb photos!

  2. Kate Says:

    I tried growing artichokes this year. One is still alive, but it’s still less that 6″ tall. Bummer.

  3. Curbstone Valley Farm Says:

    Now that’s a thistle I wouldn’t mind growing in the garden. Artichokes are so pretty in bloom. Lovely pictures!

  4. Benjamin Says:

    Me likey. Me want one!!

  5. Monica the Garden Faerie Says:

    Aw! I would have guessed that! But only cuz I have a friend in CA who grows it. Cool, innit?!

  6. ellada Says:

    Hello,
    I like a lot artichokes, you can cook them with so many recipe, but my favorite it’s with the sauce lemon.

  7. rainfield Says:

    I first thought of planted hair but wonder why it is in purple colour.

  8. miss m Says:

    Amazed it survived. Very cool !

  9. Erin P Says:

    Great post!! I scrolled down to see photos of the foliage before reading the hints, and I knew it right away. I started 3 varieties from seed, but when I put them out they did horribly….20 of each seedling are now about 3 plants. Next year maybe I’ll start the remaining seeds outside in the early spring. Advice welcome—