The leaves of Cynara Scolymus, Linné (Cynara Cardunculus, var. sativa, Moris).
COMMON NAMES: Artichoke, Garden artichoke.
Botanical Source.—This plant is perennial, with subspinose, pinnate, and undivided leaves. The heads are discoid and homogamous; the involucre dilated and imbricate; the scales ovate, with fleshy bases, emarginate and pointed; the receptacle setaceous; the pappus plumose and sessile; and the achenia not beaked (W.).
History.—This well-known plant is a native of southern or Mediterranean Europe, and is cultivated in this country. The flowers, or heads, as they are commonly called, appear in August and September, and are the parts used; the succulent receptacle and part of the calyx-leaflets are the edible portions. In their young state, the heads, prepared with vinegar, salt, etc., are much valued by some persons. The corollas are used for coagulating milk. The juice of the leaves is amarous. This plant must not be confounded with the Helianthus tuberosus or Jerusalem artichoke, a species of sunflower, the tuberous roots of which are sometimes used as a substitute for potatoes, and as feed for hogs.
Action, Medical Uses, and Dosage.—Diuretic and alterative. Reputed very beneficial in dropsies, and has been efficient in rheumatism, gout, jaundice, tic-douloureux, etc. The recent leaves only should be used in the form of an extract, or alcoholic solution. Dose of the tincture, 30 to 60 drops, repeated 3 times a day; of the extract, 3 to 6 grains (Dr. Badely, in London Lancet, 1843, p. 556).
Related Species.—Cynara Cardunculus, Linné; Cardoon. Native of Mediterranean Europe. Used as a food similarly to the above species. The Romans ate the flower receptacle under the name girello, as do also the Italians. It has been naturalized over a large extent of the Pampas of Buenos Ayres, and in Chili, and is now so plentiful as to be a hindrance to travellers (A. De Candolle, Origin of Cultivated Plants, 1882).