Artichoke Facts

May 2, 2011


Scientific NameCynara scolymus

Description:  Artichokes are large thistle-like perennials with silver-leaves. The bud or vegetable has prickly petals. When artichoke buds are left to bloom they produce beautiful lavender flowers.

History:  The French are credited with bringing the first artichokes to the U.S. during the early 1900’s. By the 1920’s artichokes were being shipped to the east coast. Soon Half Moon Bay billed itself as the artichoke capital of the world.

Nutritional Value:

½ cup, boiled =

Calories 37

Fat 9.1 g

Calories from fat 2%

Sodium 55 mg

Protein 1.9 g

Carbohydrate 8.7 g

Planting Tips:  Artichokes prefer cool, moist summers with mild winters but usually do well in some hot climates. Depending on the variety and climate, artichokes can be grown as a perennial or annual.

Plant artichokes in early fall, late winter or early spring after last frost date. Start seed, rooted offshoots, or divisions from mature plants. Plant in full sun, in rich well-drained soil with plenty of organic matter. Fertilize in early spring. Artichokes love water so keep moist and mulch deep. Some buds will develop the first spring but a good crop usually starts one year after planting. Plants mature in size 3×3 feet but can grow up to 8 feet wide and 4 feet high so allow room for growth.

Watch for aphids, earwigs, slugs, and snails. Every three or four years, dig up and divide otherwise production will decline from overcrowding.

Harvest Tips: Harvest while buds are tight and two to four inches in diameter. Cut the stem two or three inches below the bud. The California Master Gardener Handbook says, “A recommended cultural procedure is to cut the entire plant down to, or slightly below soil level after the spring production peak. Reduce irrigation for several weeks. Once you resume irrigation, it encourages rapid and vigorous regrowth bearing new buds for fall production period.”

Recommended Varieties:  Imperial Star, Emerald, Big Heart, Desert Globe, Green Globe. Check with your local nursery for varieties that grow best in your zone.

Copyright © 2011 Dianne Marie Andre


One comment

  1. We had artichokes for dinner last week, the first time this year. Not home grown, but store bought.

    I boiled two large artichokes and served my husband one with the usual mayonnaise for dipping. Not being a fan of mayo, I enjoy an artichoke with a basalmic vinagrette dip – yum!

    Our first artichokes this season were absolutely delicious – tasty, tender and leaving us begging for more. bernadine


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