The artichoke or globe artichoke (Cynara scolymus) is a perennial plant of the Asteraceae family. They first came from Southern Europe around the Mediterranean and have been cultivated for food for over 2,000 years. The thick scales and bottom parts of the young flower heads can be eaten. They are a culinary delicacy. The bottom part of the young flower head is called a heart.
The artichoke plant has a tall, spiky stalk with large, spiky leaves and a large flower head. The edible portion of the artichoke is the flower bud, which is picked before it has a chance to fully bloom. They are often served boiled or grilled, and the leaves can be pulled off and the soft, fleshy part at the base of the leaf can be eaten. The heart of the artichoke, which is the center of the flower bud, is considered the most desirable part and is often stuffed or served with a dip.
Artichokes are a good source of fiber, vitamins C and K, and minerals such as magnesium and potassium. They also contain antioxidants and have been shown to have potential health benefits such as improving digestion and liver function and reducing cholesterol levels.
Artichokes can be enjoyed in a variety of dishes, both savory and sweet. They are a popular ingredient in appetizers, salads, pasta dishes, and dips. They can also be pickled, preserved in oil, or used to make artichoke hearts, a common ingredient in antipasto platters. In addition to being eaten as a vegetable, artichokes are also used to flavor liqueurs such as Cynar and Fernet-Branca.
Artichokes are grown in Mediterranean countries, as well as in the United States. They are usually grown in warm, dry climates and are harvested in the spring and early summer.
It grows to 1.5 metres (4 ft 11 in) to 2 metres (6 ft 7 in) tall, with arching, deeply lobed, silvery glaucous-green leaves 50–82 cm long. The flowers develop in a large head from an edible bud about 8–15 cm diameter with numerous triangular scales; the individual florets are purple. It is a soure of vitamins.