Scientific: Cynara scolymus
Common: artichoke
Family: Asteraceae
Origin: Mediterranean

Pronounciation: Cy-NAR-a SCO-ly-mus

Hardiness zones
Sunset
8-9, 12-24
USDA 8-11

Landscape Use: Accent garden plant, edible flowers

Form & Character: Rounded, bold, stiff and sturdy

Growth Habit: Clumping annual or perennial to 6 feet tall. In Phoenix, artichoke is a herbaceous perennial that dies to the ground during the summer, but re-grows vigorously in the fall and winter to produce a wonderful crop of edible flower buds in the spring (usually April).

Foliage/Texture: Very large fibrous, dissected, gray green leaves to 3 feet long, spineless, very coarsely serrate to sharply lobed on short stems, coarse texture.

Flowers & Fruits: Flowers borne singly on thick, apical flowering stalk, reddish purple. Involucral (whorled) flower bracts, purple tinged, many, ovate and thickened toward the base, bracts slightly emarginate, and sometimes tipped with a much reduced apical spine. Harvest flower buds immature as bracts begin to open for best eating, the flower receptacle and fleshy bases of involucral bracts being edible. Fruit is an achene, 4 angled, pappus of plumose bristles.

Seasonal Color: Striking bluish to reddish-purple flowers in late spring/early summer.

Temperature: Tolerant, surprisingly so of Phoenix conditions.

Light: Full sun

Soil: Tolerant, but with a high nutritional demand during the winter.

Watering: Apply regular watering during fall, winter and spring if winter rains are spotty; allow to go dormant and dry during the summer.

Pruning: Allow each plant to dieback to ground before removing all foliage.

Propagation: Use division during summer to propagate, transplant divided clumps and root segments in September/October for best start. Best yields in spring will be 2 to 3 years after transplanting.

Disease and pests: None

Additional comments: Artichoke is a bold landscape accent plant that needs plenty of garden space. One plant will provide enough edible flower buds to continuously feed during the spring 3 or 4 people.