Cardoon

← Return to Herbs

Cynara cardunculus

 

History

Large grey green leaves and impressive flowers. An attractive plant that readily fits into any ornamental garden. The flowers have the bonus of being very attractive to bumble bees.

Closely related to the globe artichoke however the head of the cardoon is not eaten ( If unsure of the difference the cardoon flower bud will feel very sharp and tough if brushed against)

Leaves can grow to spread of about 2m and flowers grow to 1.5m high

Fantastic fragrance.

Growing

Cardoons are Mediterranean plants preferring warm but not too hot summers and mild to cool winters. Too much heat will cause leaves to become bitter if you are wanting to harvest for eating. Leaves will die back in a good Hawke’s Bay frost, mulch to protect roots.

Will grow in poor soil

Sow seed in late winter (August) or late Summer for an autumn crop of leaves

Plant a metre apart

Tuberous roots can be divided in late Autumn and placed in pots to over- winter or sections of young shoots with some roots can be gently removed from the crown in spring and summer and established in pots.

Uses

Used in Italy as a digestive and as a herbal treatment for liver complaints. Diuretic and digestive aid, restorative of the liver.  Anti-rheumatic properties when applied externally.

Cooking:  Use young leaves or blanch the older ones by tying a bag around them.  Boil rapidly in salted water with a squeeze of lemon juice.

Slow bake and top with cheese or herb butter.