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Cynara cardunculus - L.
                 
Common Name Cardoon
Family Asteraceae or Compositae
USDA hardiness 5-9
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Stony or waste places and in dry grassland, usually on clay[50].
Range S. Europe.
Edibility Rating  
Other Uses  
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating  
Care
Fully Hardy Well drained soil Moist Soil Full sun

Summary

Cynara cardunculus Cardoon


Cynara cardunculus Cardoon
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cynara_cardunculus_(Kalmthout).jpg
   
Physical Characteristics
 icon of manicon of flower
Cynara cardunculus is a PERENNIAL growing to 2 m (6ft) 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.Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and can grow in heavy clay and nutritionally poor soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in saline soils.
It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought. The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure.

Synonyms

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

Flower buds - raw or cooked[33, 105]. A globe artichoke substitute[183]. The flower buds are a bit smaller than the globe artichoke and so are even more fiddly to use[K]. 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]. The flavour is mild and pleasant and is felt by some people to be more delicate than the globe artichoke[K]. Stems - cooked and used as a celery substitute[2, 27, 33, 46, 61]. It is best to earth up the stems as they grow in order to blanch them and reduce their bitterness[4], these blanched stems can then be eaten cooked or in salads[105, 132, 183]. In Italy raw strips of the stems are dipped into olive oil[183]. We find these stems to be too bitter when eaten raw[K]. Young leaves - raw or cooked. Eaten as a salad by the ancient Romans[183]. Rather bitter[K]. Root - cooked like parsnips[27, 105, 183]. Tender, thick and fleshy, with an agreeable flavour[183]. The dried flowers are a rennet substitute, used for curdling plant milks[105, 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;  Cholagogue;  Digestive;  Diuretic.

The cardoon 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].
Other Uses
Dye.

The plant is said to yield a good yellow dye[4], though the report does not say which part of the plant is used.
Cultivation details
Prefers a light warm soil and an open position in full sun[37, 200]. For best results, this plant requires plenty of moisture in the growing season and a good rich soil[16, 27, 33, 37], though another report says that it is drought tolerant once established[190]. Plants grew very well with us in the hot and very dry summer of 1995, though they were looking very tatty by September[K]. Tolerates most soils including heavy clays of both acid and alkaline nature, especially when grown in heavier or more spartan soils[200]. Plants are reasonably wind resistant[200, K]. This species is hardy to about -10°c[187]. Plants are more likely to require protection from winter cold when they are grown in a heavy soil[190]. Wet winters can do more harm than cold ones[K]. At one time the cardoon was often grown for its edible stems but it has now fallen into virtual disuse[132]. There are some named varieties[183]. It is a very ornamental foliage plant and makes a very attractive feature in the garden. The leaves are long lasting in water and are often used in flower arrangements[233]. Recent taxonomic revisions (1999) have seen the globe artichoke being merged into this species. However, since from the gardener's point of view it is quite a distinctive plant, we have decided to leave it with its own entry in the database under Cynara scolymus[K]. Plants seem to be immune to the predations of rabbits[233].
Propagation
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
Artichoke; desert artichoke; European cardoon; globe artichoke; scotch thistle; Scottish thistle; Spanish artichoke; wild artichoke; wild cardoon. Spanish: alcachofa; alcaucil; cardo; cardo de comer. French: artichaut commun; carde; cardon d’Espagne. Russian: artišok ispanskij. Arabic: al harshuff. England and Wales: march-ysgall. Finland: Isoartisokka. Germany: artishocke; gemüseartishocke; gemüse-artishocke; kardone. Italy: carciofo. Netherlands: kardoen. Portugal: alcachofra; cardo. Spain: card; card comestible; card comú; herbacol. Sweden: kardon.
Found In
Africa, Algeria, Argentina, Asia, Australia, Brazil, Britain, Canada, Canary Islands, Chile, China, Cyprus, Europe, France, Greece, India, Italy, Libya, Macedonia, Mediterranean, Morocco, New Zealand, North Africa, North America, Paraguay, Portugal, South America, Spain, Tasmania, Tunisia, Turkey, Uruguay, USA.
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.

This plant can be weedy or invasive. Native to southern Europe and North Africa, it has been widely introduced and is recognised as invasive in parts of Australia, the USA, Chile and Argentina. In California, it is categorized as a Most Invasive Wildland Pest Plant [1d].
Conservation Status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed.
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Expert comment
 
Author
L.
Botanical References
50200
Links / References
For a list of references used on this page please go here
Readers comment
 
Elizabeth H.
Carissa Chiniaeff Sun Oct 19 2008
Can anyone send me a recipe for using Cardoon as rennet in cheese making? I have looked all over for specifics. Is it the dried flower or the purple fresh flower? Is it the whole flower?
Elizabeth H.
guido montgomery Sun Dec 14 2008
carissa, here in portugal dried cardoon flowers are routinely used in cheese-making, usually with sheep's milk. i make cheese from goat's milk using the dried flowers; i put a large pinch in an eggcupful of hot water (around 45-50 degrees celsius) with a small pinch of salt, stir and leave to macerate for an hour before adding to 4 to 5 litres milk. it works best at temps between 25 and 32 degrees; i add it after the milk (unpasteurised) has sat with sour milk starter for about one hour. takes 8-12 hours to form curd. the longer the better.

the artisan cheesemaker excellent site on cheesemaking

Elizabeth H.
Fri Nov 6 2009
I have eaten the fresh goat`s cheese Guido makes and it is absolutely delicious!
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Subject : Cynara cardunculus  

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