The Globe Artichoke (Cynara Scolymus, Linn.) also has a tuberous root, but
it is the large flower-buds that form the edible portion of the plant, and
it is from a similarity in the flavour of the tuber of the Jerusalem Artichoke
to that of the fleshy base of this flower that the Jerusalem Artichoke has
obtained its name.
The expanded flower has much resemblance to a large thistle- the corollas
are of a rich blue colour.
It is one of the world's oldest cultivated vegetables, grown by the Greeks
and the Romans in the heyday of their power. It was introduced into this
country in the early sixteenth century both as a vegetable and an ornamental
plant in monastery gardens.
Gerard (1597) gives a good figure of the Artichoke. Parkinson (1640) alludes
to a statement of Theophrastus (fourth century B.C.) that 'the head of Scolymus
is most pleasant, being boyled or eaten raw, but chiefly when it is in flower,
as also the inner substance of the heads is eaten.' Though this 'inner substance'
- botanically the 'receptacle' - has a delicate flavour, it contains little
It is grown either from seed sown in March, in a deep, moist, rich soil
which may be greatly aided by wood-ashes and seaweed (for it is partial
to saline manures, its home being the sandy shores of Northern Africa);
or by planting suckers in April; the latter is preferable for a permanent
plantation. Strong plants may be ensured by inserting them 4 feet each way,
but market growers usually put out suckers in rows 4 1/2, feet apart, and
2 feet distant in the rows.
Suckers should be planted when about 9 inches high; put in rather deep in
soil and planted firmly and covered with rough mulch. If the weather be
dry, they will need watering, and during hot weather water and liquid manure
should be given freely to ensure a good supply of large heads.
Seedlings that are started well in a suitable bed do better than plants
from suckers, especially in a dry season.
Vigorous seedlings send down their roots to a great depth. To get large
heads, all lateral heads should be removed when they are about the size
of a large egg. After the heads are used, the plant should be cut down.
The Artichoke is hardy on dry soils in winters of only average severity.
But on moist soils - so favourable to fine heads - a severe winter will
kill the plantations unless they have some kind of protection.
This is usually ensured by cutting down the stems and large leaves without
touching the smaller central leaves, and when severe frost threatens, to
partially earth up the rows with soil taken from between, also adding dry,
light litter loosely thrown over; the latter is removed in the spring and
the earth dug back, and a liberal supply of manure dug in. At the end of
five years a plantation is worn out; the best method being to sow a bed
annually and allow it to stand for two years.
The flower-stems grow erect and attain the height of 4 to 6 feet. They are
each terminated by a large globular head of imbricated oval spiny scales
of a purplish-green colour.
These envelop a mass of flowers in the centre. These flowerheads in an immature
state contain the parts that are eatable, which comprise the fleshy receptacle
usually called the 'bottom,' freed from the bristles and seed-down, commonly
called the 'choke,' and the thick lower part of the imbricated scales or
leaves of the involucre.
Although Artichokes are a common vegetable, they are not so much in request
with us as on the Continent.
In France, the bottoms are often fried in paste, and enter largely into
ragouts. They are occasionally used for pickling, but for this purpose
the smaller heads which are formed on the lateral shoots that spring in
succession from the main stem, are generally preferred when about the
size of a large egg.
The chard of Artichokes, or the tender central leaf-stalks, blanched,
is by some considered to be equal to the Cardoon.
The flowers are very handsome, and are said to possess the property of