Artichoke Facts

Artichoke Facts
Artichoke is a type of flowering plant that belongs to the group of thistles. This plant originates from North Africa and Mediterranean region. Artichoke was initially cultivated and consumed in the Middle East. This plant was used as medicine and food in the ancient Greece. It was popular among wealthy citizens of the ancient Rome (poor people were not allowed to consume artichoke). Intensive cultivation of artichoke in Europe started in the 15th century, and few centuries later (19th century), artichoke was introduced to the USA. Artichoke grows best in cool climate, on well-drained rich soil. People cultivate artichoke mainly as a source of food. Other than that, artichoke can be cultivated as ornamental plant.
Interesting Artichoke Facts:
Artichoke can reach 4.6 to 6.6 feet in height and spread 9 feet in diameter.
Artichoke has deeply lobed, silver, grey-green or bronze-green colored leaves. Some varieties of artichokes look like ferns due to arched, spiky leaves.
Immature flowers are edible part of artichoke. They develop from the flower buds that grow laterally from the main stem. Large flowerhead (inflorescence) consists of numerous individual florets.
Flowershead usually grows to the size of a tennis ball. It can be globular or cone-shaped. Flowerhead consists of large number of succulent bracts (modified leaves) that surround centrally positioned immature flowers.
One plant produces around 15 to 20 artichokes per year. Harvest usually takes place 5 to 6 months after planting.
Fully developed flowerhead bears purple flowers that contain large number of seed. Seed of artichoke are covered with hairs to facilitate dispersal by wind.
Artichoke can be propagated via seed, root cuttings or tissue cultures.
Artichoke is a rich source of dietary fibers, vitamins K, B9 and C and minerals such as sodium, manganese and magnesium.
Artichoke cannot be consumed raw (it needs to be processed first). Artichoke can be fried, grilled, baked, cooked or microwaved and used for the preparation of stews, soups, salads, sauces and casseroles.
Herbal tea made of artichoke is popular and often consumed in Vietnam and Mexico.
Artichoke contains phenolic compounds and antioxidants that act beneficially on the human health. Artichoke facilitates digestion and improves functions of liver and gall bladder. Artichoke can prevent development of coronary disorders via reduction of blood cholesterol levels.
Famous Italian liqueur Cynar is made of artichoke.
Until 16th century, consumption of artichoke was restricted only to men due to aphrodisiac properties of this plant. This practice was popular in many countries in the world.
Italy, Egypt and Spain are major producers of artichoke in the world. Nearly 100% of artichoke that is consumed in the USA originates from California.
Artichoke can be cultivated as annual plant (plant that completes its life cycle in one year) or perennial plant (plant that lives more than two years).

Related Links:
Plants Facts
Animals Facts

Educational Videos