Cynara scolymus. Garden Artichoke.
Nat. Ord. — Asteraceae. Sex. Syst. — Syngenesia Aequalis.
Description. — This is a perennial plant, with subspinose, pinnate and undivided leaves ; heads discoid, homogamous ; involucre dilated, imbricate ; scales ovate, with fleshy bases, emarginate, pointed ; receptacle setaceous ; pappus plumose, sessile ; achenia not beaked.
History. — This well-known plant is indigenous in the south of Europe, and is cultivated in this country from suckers, as a culinary vegetable, they being placed in rows about three feet apart. The flowers or heads as they are commonly called, appear in August and September, and are the parts used ; the receptacle and the lower portion of the fleshy leaflets of the calyx are eaten, and the other parts rejected. When young, the heads are cut up raw and eaten as salad ; when older, they are boiled, and dressed variously. The flowers are said to curdle milk, and the plant to afford a good yellow dye. The leaves and their expressed juice are very bitter.
Properties and Uses. — Diuretic and alterative. Reputed very beneficial in dropsies, and recommended, in the form of tincture or extract, in rheumatic, gouty and neuralgic affections. The leaves should be fresh, and the preparations made from them quickly used. Dose, of the tincture a fluidrachm, or five grains of the extract, three times a day.
This plant must not be confounded with the Helianthus Tuberosus, or Jerusalem Artichoke, a species of sunflower, and the tuberous roots of which are sometimes used as a substitute for potatoes.