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Artichoke flower with bumblebee

The artichoke ( Cynara cardunculus subsp. Scolymus (L.) Hegi , syn .: Cynara scolymus L. ) is a thistle-like , strong cultivated plant from the sunflower family (Asteraceae). The artichoke group of varieties is grown for their edible budded inflorescences and consumed as a flowering vegetable . The leafy vegetable cardy also belongs to Cynara cardunculus .

The artichoke was named Medicinal Plant of the Year 2003.


Budded inflorescence

The artichoke is in all parts similar to its wild ancestor, Cynara cardunculus . It is a perennial plant : after a basal rosette of leaves has formed in the autumn of the first year of vegetation, stems from 0.5 to 2 meters high with inflorescences are formed for about five years . The two to three pinnate, thorny leaves are up to 80 cm long and 40 cm wide; the underside is hairy gray-tomentose.

The cup-shaped inflorescences are the part of the plant that is harvested. Compared to wild forms, the inflorescences are larger. With an earlier flowering period, several harvests per year are possible. The inflorescence base is very fleshy. The fleshy, roof-tiled bracts are hardly thorny in cultivated forms. If the inflorescences are not harvested, the purple tubular flowers appear . There are 2 to 8 millimeters long achenes with a Pappus from 2 to 3.5 cm long, formed feathery bristles.

The number of chromosomes is 2n = 34.


The frost-sensitive artichoke originally comes from the Mediterranean region ; from the eastern Mediterranean ( Cilicia ) via Persia to North Africa , west to Spain and also on the Canary Islands . In Greek mythology , Zeus fell in love with the attractive nymph Cynara, but she rejected him. Then, in his anger, Zeus turned her into the prickly artichoke. The nymph is still remembered today by its scientific name, from which the current Greek name αγκινάρα ankinára is derived.

The first reports about the artichoke are from Pliny and Columella , although the assignment of the plants mentioned there is uncertain. So the ancient Greek scolymos , which refers to the thorn, could also mean other thistles. The artichoke culture seems to have started in the 1st century AD. The Arabs spread the artichoke in the southern Mediterranean region. The name of the plant in European languages ​​is derived from the Iberian- Arabic nameالخرشوف / al-haršūf ab, so in Spain ( Spanish alcachofa ) as well as in Italy ( Italian carciofo ). The German term artichoke as in England ( English artichoke ) also goes back to this Arabic word via the subsidiary form articiocco, which is widespread in northern Italian . The Germanization of earth shock is also rarely found . In other languages, too, the strange-looking word was influenced by such folk etymologies . Thus, the case can be found in older English texts occasionally hartichoke , which apparently goes back to the popular belief, the heart ( heart ) of the artichoke is inedible and lead to death by suffocation ( choke ).

After the plant had been imported from Sicily by the Florentine trader Filippo Strozzi in the middle of the 15th century, it began its triumphal march through Caterina de 'Medici to France and Great Britain in 1533 . Up until the French Revolution , the artichoke was a symbol of wealth and a noble way of life in the gardens of the French landed gentry. It was introduced to the United States by Italian immigrants at the end of the 19th century . In the 1930s, the mafia there by force obtained a monopoly on the artichoke trade on the east coast , which was broken in 1935 (see Artichoke Wars ).

The plant needs about 1 m² in the garden and prefers sunny, warm places. The fist-sized flower heads are harvested when they are still closed and the outer scales stick out slightly. If you miss this point in time, a large purple flower will appear.

Economical meaning

In 2018, according to the food and agriculture organization FAO, 1,678,872 t of artichokes were harvested worldwide.

The following table gives an overview of the ten largest producers of artichokes worldwide, who produced a total of 91.6% of the harvest.

Largest artichoke producers (2018)
rank country Quantity
(in t )
1 ItalyItaly Italy 389.813
2 EgyptEgypt Egypt 323,866
3 SpainSpain Spain 208,463
4th PeruPeru Peru 154,552
5 AlgeriaAlgeria Algeria 124,659
6th ArgentinaArgentina Argentina 110,657
7th China People's RepublicPeople's Republic of China People's Republic of China 90.397
8th FranceFrance France 47,190
9 United StatesUnited States United States 45,382
10 MoroccoMorocco Morocco 44,591



Artichoke field
Artichokes in the vegetable shop

With large artichokes, the lower, fleshy parts of the bracts and the flower bases (actually basket bases; the artichoke heart) are edible. The hairs lying under the leaves, the so-called "hay" (not opened flowers), are not suitable for consumption. Smaller types of artichoke, which are also harvested early (as is common, for example, on the vegetable island of Vignole in the Venice lagoon ), can be consumed whole, including those with the protected geographical indication (PGI) seal , thornless Roman artichoke ( carciofo romanesco ). The whole flower heads are fried, boiled or deep-fried. The fine taste of the unseasoned boiled artichoke is similar to that of the egg white of a fried egg. Artichokes are cooked in salted water with a little lemon juice for 20 to 45 minutes. The leaves are then plucked off and the lower part peeled off with the teeth. A vinaigrette is usually served with it. Artichoke bases are also pickled and are a common pizza topping , among other things .

Artichoke hearts are known as a special culinary delicacy . Artichoke hearts are freshly cooked as well as canned or pickled. Pickled in oil with herbs, they are a popular component of Mediterranean antipasto plates.

Together with herbs, a dark brown digestif called Cynar has also been made from artichokes in Padua since 1953 .

Medicinal plant

Artichokes are said to have an appetizing , digestive and cholesterol-lowering effect. Due to different mechanisms of action (increased excretion of cholesterol, increased cholesterol consumption for bile acid synthesis as well as inhibition of the formation of new cholesterol in the liver cells), it should actually be possible to lower total cholesterol by up to 12 percent by consuming artichokes. In this respect, the artichoke plays an important role in preventing atherosclerosis . The bitter substance cynarin it contains stimulates the liver's metabolism . In addition to being cooked, their leaves are used in juices , teas , dry extracts and tinctures . Their medicinal and dietetic effect is attributed to the content of polyphenols and, in particular, special flavonoids and quinic acid derivatives . Fresh plant extracts from artichoke leaves in particular are successfully used in the therapy of dyspepsia and hypercholesterolemia. The formation of the protective radical scavenger nitrogen monoxide is significantly increased. This can also improve the sugar and fat metabolism. Cardiovascular diseases and the metabolic syndrome can also be positively influenced. Fresh plant extracts from artichoke develop a metabolism-stimulating effect in the human organism, which is combined with an antioxidative protection through increased formation of the endogenous radical scavenger nitric oxide. Nitric oxide stimulates the activity and formation of mitochondria. This leads to an improvement in general health, quality of life and well-being through significantly increased metabolic efficiency.

Side effects

People with irritable bowel syndrome who are receiving dietary treatment should avoid artichokes, at least initially, as well as peas, beans, onions, leeks, cabbage and mushrooms. These foods contain fermentable, poorly absorbable carbohydrates (so-called fructans ), which can cause flatulence.

Common names

For the artichoke, the other German-language trivial names Artischan, Artischoca (already mentioned in the 16th century), Artichock, Artschock ( Homburg , Heidelberg ), Artischoss, Erdschocke, Golddistel, Jockeles ( Friesland ), Strobildorn and Welschdistel exist or existed.

“Avoir un coeur d'artichaut”, an artichoke heart, has a girl who keeps giving her heart away.


  • David J. Keil: Cynara. In: Flora of North America Editorial Committee (Ed.): Flora of North America North of Mexico . Volume 19: Magnoliophyta: Asteridae, part 6: Asteraceae, part 1 (Mutisieae – Anthemideae). Oxford University Press, New York / Oxford a. a. 2006, ISBN 0-19-530563-9 , pp. 89 (English, online ).
  • Gabriella Sonnante, Domenico Pignone, Karl Hammer: The Domestication of Artichoke and Cardoon: From Roman Times to the Genomic Age. In: Annals of Botany. Volume 100, No. 5, 2007, pp. 1095-1097, doi: 10.1093 / aob / mcm127 .
  • Mireille Jochum-Guillou, Marion Zerbst: Artichoke - the healthy delicacy. Trias, Stuttgart 1998, ISBN 3-89373-466-X .
  • Franz Olck : Artichoke . In: Paulys Realencyclopadie der classischen Antiquity Science (RE). Volume II, 2, Stuttgart 1896, Col. 1455-1458.

Web links

Wiktionary: Artichoke  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : Artichoke  - Album with pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

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  3. ^ JA Simpson, ESC Weiner: Oxford English Dictionary . 2nd Edition. Clarendon, Oxford / New York 1989, ISBN 0-19-861186-2 (sv artichoke, n. ).
  4. ^ Crops> Artichokes. In: Official FAO production statistics for 2018., accessed on April 2, 2020 .
  5. Artichokes at the Transport Information Service (TIS) (Figure 3).
  6. Regulation (EC) No. 2066/2002 of the Commission of November 21, 2002 supplementing the annex to Regulation (EC) No. 2400/96 for the entry of certain names in the list of protected designations of origin and protected geographical indications for agricultural products and foodstuffs According to Council Regulation (EEC) No. 2081/92 on the protection of geographical indications and designations of origin for agricultural products and foodstuffs (Carne de Bovino Cruzado dos Lameiros do Barroso, Pruneaux d'Agen - Pruneaux d'Agen mi-cuits, Carciofo romanesco del Lazio , Aktinidio Pierias, Milo Kastorias, Welsh Beef) , accessed March 1, 2013 .
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  8. Ernst Schneider: Fresh plant preparations of the artichoke. Therapeutic and Pharmaceutical Benefits. In: Z Phytother. Volume 30, 2009, pp. 316-322.
  9. a b H. Li, N. Xia, I. Brausch, Y. Yao, U. Förstermann: Flavonoids from artichocke (Cynara scolymus L.) up-regulate endothelial-type nitric-oxide synthase gene expression in human endothelial cells. In: J Pharmacol Exp Ther. Volume 310 (3), 2004, pp. 926-932, doi: 10.1124 / jpet.104.066639 . PMID 15123766 .
  10. a b M. Rondanelli, F. Monteferrario, S. Perna MA Faliva, A. Opizzi: Health-promoting properties of artichoke in preventing cardiovascular disease by its lipidic and glycemic-reducing action. In: Monaldi Arch Chest Dis. Volume 80 (1), 2013, pp. 17-26. PMID 23923586 .
  11. a b M. Rondanelli, A. Opizzi, M. Faliva, P. Sala, S. Perna, A. Riva, P. Morazzoni, E. Bombardelli, A. Giacosa: Metabolic management in overweight subjects with impaired fasting glycaemia by naive means of a highly standardized extract from Cynara scolymus: a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized clinical trial. In: Phytother Res. Volume 28 (1), 2014, pp. 33-41, doi: 10.1002 / ptr.4950 . PMID 23440660 .
  12. ^ A b M. Rondanelli, A. Giacosa, A. Opizzi, MA Faliva, P. Sala, S. Perna, A. Riva, P. Morazzoni, E. Bombardelli: Beneficial effects of artichoke leaf extract supplementation on increasing HDL-cholesterol in subjects with primary mild hypercholesterolaemia: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. In: Int J Food Sci Nutr. Volume 64 (1), 2013, pp. 7-15, doi: 10.3109 / 09637486.2012.700920 . PMID 22746542 .
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  14. ^ Georg August Pritzel , Carl Jessen : The German folk names of plants. New contribution to the German linguistic treasure. Philipp Cohen, Hannover 1882, p. 124, .
  15. Les expressions françaises décortiquées on