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Cynara scolymus - L.
Common Name Globe Artichoke
Family Asteraceae or Compositae
USDA hardiness 5-9
Known Hazards Can cause allergic reactions (dermatitis) due to lactones. [301]. Use with caution in cases of biliary obstruction. May hinder breast feeding (lactation) [301].
Habitats Not known in the wild.
Range Not known in the wild, it probably arose from a form of C. cardunculus.
Edibility Rating  
Other Uses  
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating  
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Full sun


Cynara scolymus Globe Artichoke

Cynara scolymus Globe Artichoke
Physical Characteristics
 icon of manicon of flower
Cynara scolymus is a PERENNIAL growing to 1.5 m (5ft) by 1 m (3ft 3in).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 6 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from Aug to September, and the seeds ripen from Sep to October. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, lepidoptera.It is noted for attracting wildlife.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in saline soils.
It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil. The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure.

This name is a synonym of Cynara cardunculus subsp. flavescens Wiklund.

Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Cultivated Beds;
Edible Uses
Edible Parts: Flowers;  Leaves;  Stem.
Edible Uses: Curdling agent.

Flower buds - raw or cooked[2, 7, 15, 16, 27, 37, 183]. Used before the flowers open[171]. The flavour is mild and pleasant[K]. Gobe artichokes are considered to be a gourmet food but they are very fiddly to eat. The buds are harvested just before the flowers open, they are then usually boiled before being eaten. Only the base of each bract is eaten, plus the 'heart' or base that the petals grow from [K]. Small, or baby artichokes, that are produced on lateral stems can be pickled or used in soups and stews[183]. Plants yield about 5 to 6 main heads per year from their second year onwards[200]. Flowering stems - peeled and eaten raw or cooked. A sweet nutty flavour[183]. Young leaf stems - a celery substitute[200]. They are normally blanched to remove the bitterness and then boiled or eaten raw[183]. We find them too bitter to be enjoyable[K]. Leaves - cooked. A bitter flavour[15, 61]. The dried flowers are a rennet substitute, used for curdling plant milks[4, 183].
Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Anticholesterolemic;  Antirheumatic;  Appetizer;  Cholagogue;  Digestive;  Diuretic;  Hypoglycaemic;  Lithontripic.

The globe artichoke has become important as a medicinal herb in recent years following the discovery of cynarin. This bitter-tasting compound, which is found in the leaves, improves liver and gall bladder function, stimulates the secretion of digestive juices, especially bile, and lowers blood cholesterol levels[238, 254]. The leaves are anticholesterolemic, antirheumatic, cholagogue, digestive, diuretic, hypoglycaemic and lithontripic[7, 21, 165]. They are used internally in the treatment of chronic liver and gall bladder diseases, jaundice, hepatitis, arteriosclerosis and the early stages of late-onset diabetes[238, 254]. The leaves are best harvested just before the plant flowers, and can be used fresh or dried[238]. The German Commission E Monographs, a therapeutic guide to herbal medicine, approve Cynara scolymus (Cynara cardunculus subsp. flavescens)for liver and gallbladder complaints, loss of appetite (see [302] for critics of commission E).
Other Uses

A dark grey dye is obtained from the leaves[7].
Cultivation details
Prefers a light warm soil and an open position in full sun[15, 16, 33, 37]. Requires plenty of moisture in the growing season and a good rich soil[200]. Prefers a sheltered position[200] but plants are reasonably wind resistant[K]. Plants are tolerant of saline conditions[4]. Plants succeed in cool climates though they may need protection in cold winters[200], they are unlikely to thrive in the north of Britain. Wet winters are far more likely to cause problems than cold ones[4, K]. The globe artichoke is often cultivated in the garden and sometimes commercially for its edible flower buds, there are some named varieties[183, 200]. It is best to renew the plants by division of the suckers every 3 years but they do live for a number of years[200]. The plant has recently been reclassified (1999) as not having specific status but being part of C. cardunculus. However, since it is distinct enough from the gardener's viewpoint (having a much larger seedhead) we have decided to leave it with its own entry for the time being[K]. Plants seem to be immune to the predations of rabbits[233]. The flowering plant is a magnet for bees[108].
Seed - sow early spring in a greenhouse. Germination is usually quick and good, prick out the seedlings into individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle and plant them out into their permanent positions during the summer. It would be prudent to give the plants some winter protection in their first year. The seed can also be sown in situ in April. Sow the seed 2cm deep, putting 2 or 3 seeds at each point that you want a plant[1]. Protect the seed from mice[1]. Division of suckers. This is best done in November and the suckers overwintered in a cold frame then planted out in April. Division can also be carried out in March/April with the divisions being planted out straight into their permanent positions, though the plants will be smaller in their first year.
Other Names
Found In
Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :
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Botanical References
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Readers comment
Elizabeth H.
Peter Crossley Wed Jun 22 15:42:24 2005
Congratulations on a most excellent entry. This is the first time I have come across your database but it is of a high quality.
Elizabeth H.
jonthan lock Wed Nov 5 2008
i had my front garden done by professionals, i want to keep it nice but i do not know too much about the plants. i have three cynaras the head are flling of and the leaves are very limp. should i leave them or do i have to cut them back?
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Subject : Cynara scolymus  

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