Photo courtesy of Seeds of Change
Eat your buds
When your parents told you to eat your veggies, did you know that at least one was actually a flower? Probably not (parents tend to discourage eating flowers). Yet this is just what occurred if you were ever served an artichoke.
The vegetable we call artichoke is a flower bud of a big Mediterranean perennial, Cynara cardunculus, with spiky silver leaves and several stout stems with branches. The bud is picked young. If left on the plant it would open (becoming less edible) and reveal, vibrant blue-purple thistle flowers (definitely inedible). The edible part is the meaty inner side of the bracts (petal-like parts) that overlap to cover the real flower inside.
Small artichokes (“baby” artichokes) are as mature as full-sized artichokes. They come from a branch on a stem. Full-sized artichokes grow at the tip of the stems.
California is the artichoke-producing powerhouse of the United States due to the cool climate along the coast, which is similar to their native Mediterranean home. Castroville, California has deemed itself the “Artichoke Center of the World.” (It was at the annual Castroville Artichoke Festival in 1948 that Marilyn Monroe was named Artichoke Queen.)
Italy would have something to say about Castroville’s claim to the title, as there are numerous artichoke festivals around the countryside to coincide with the harvest.
Copyright © 2012 YourGardenShow.com
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