Cynara cardunculus, Cynara integrifolia.

Cynara cardunculus Linn. Compositae. Artichoke. Cardoon. Cardoon.

Mediterranean region and common in its wild form in southern Europe and a portion of central Asia. Cardoon was known, according to Targioni-Tozzetti, to the ancient Romans and was cultivated for the leaf-stalks which were eaten. Some commentators say that both the Greeks and Romans procured this vegetable from the coast of Africa, about Carthage, and also from Sicily. Dioscorides mentions it. Pliny says it was much esteemed in Rome and obtained a higher price than any other garden herb. In more recent times, Ruellius, 1536, speaks of the use of the herb as a food, after the manner of asparagus. Matthiolus, 1558, says there are many varieties in the gardens which are commonly called cardoni by the Etruscans, and that, diligently cultivated, these are tender, crisp, and white and are eaten with salt and pepper. The plant is mentioned by Parkinson, 1629, under the name of Cardus esculentus but its introduction into England is stated to have been in 1656 or 1658.

Cardoon is now cultivated in but few English gardens. On the continent of Europe, it is regarded as a wholesome esculent and in France is much used, the stalks of the inner leaves, rendered crisp and tender by blanching, serving as a salad. Five varieties are esteemed there. Townsend, in his tour through Spain mentions that in some parts of that country they never use rennet for cheese but substitute the down of this plant from which they make an infusion. In the present day, the flowers of cardoon are carefully dried and used for the same purpose. McMahon includes it in his list of American esculents in 1806 and says "it has been a long time used for culinary purposes, such as for salads, soups and stewing." Thorburn includes it in his seed catalogs of 1828 and 1882. In the Banda Oriental, says Darwin, very many, probably several hundred, square miles are covered by one mass of these prickly plants and are impenetrable by man or beast. Over the undulating plains where these great beds occur, nothing else can now live.

Vilmorin describes five varieties: the Cordon de Tours, the Cordon plein inerme, the Cordon d'Espagne, the Cardan Puvis, and the Cordon a cotes rouges.

The first of these, the Cordon de Tours, is very spiny and we may reasonably believe it tc be the sort figured by Matthiolus, 1598, under the name of Carduus aculeatus. It is named in French works on gardening in 1824, 1826 and 1829. Its English name is Prickly-Solid cardoon; in Spain it is called Cardo espinoso. It holds first place in the estimation of the market gardeners of Tours and Paris.

The Cordon plein inerme is scarcely spiny, is a little larger than the preceding but otherwise closely resembles it. J. Bauhin had never seen spineless cardoons. It is spoken of in 1824 in French books on gardening. It is called, in England, Smooth-Solid cardoon and has also names in Germany, Italy and Spain.

The Cordon d'Espagne is very large and not spiny and is principally grown in the southern portions of Europe. We may reasonably speculate that this is the sort named by Pliny as coming from Cordoba. Cordons d'Espagne have their cultivation described in Le Jardinier Solitaire, 1612. A "Spanish cardoon" is described by Townsend in England, 1726, and the same name is used by McMahon in America, 1806. This is the Cynara integrifolia of Vahl.

The Cordon Puvis, or Artichoke-leaved, is spineless and is grown largely in the vicinity of Lyons, France. It finds mention in the French books on gardening of 1824 and 1829, as previously enumerated.

The Cordon a cotes rouges, or Red-stemmed, is so named from having the ribs tinged with red. It is called a recent sort by Burr in 1863.

From a botanical point of view we have two types in these plants, the armed and the unarmed; but these characters are by no means to be considered as very constant, as in the Smooth-Solid we have an intermediate form. From an olericultural point of view, we have but one type throughout but a greater or less perfection. A better acquaintance with the wild forms would, doubtless, show to us the prototypes of the variety differences as existing in nature.


The artichoke is a cultivated form of cardoon. To the ancient Romans, it was known only in the shape of cardoon. It seems quite certain that there is no description in Dioscorides and Theophrastus, among the Greeks, nor in Columella, Palladius and Pliny, among the Romans, but that can with better grace be referred to the cardoon than to the artichoke. To the writers of the sixteenth century, the artichoke and its uses were well known. Le Jardinier Solitaire, an anonymous work published in 1612, recommends three varieties for the garden. In Italy, the first record of the artichoke cultivated for the receptacle of the flowers was at Naples, in the beginning or middle of the fifteenth century. It was thence carried to Florence in 1466 and at Venice, Ermolao Barbaro who died as late as 1493, knew of only a single plant grown as a novelty in a private garden, although it soon after became a staple article of food over a great part of the peninsula. In France, three varieties are commonly grown. It seems to have been unknown in England, says Booth, until introduced from Italy in 1548 and is even now but little grown there, yet in France it is highly esteemed. In the United States, in 1806, McMahon mentions two species, C. scolymus, or French, and C. hortensis, or Globe. Of the second, he mentions two varieties. In 1818, the artichoke is mentioned by Gardiner and Hepburn and also by John Randolph of Virginia; in 1828, by Fessenden; and in 1832 by Bridgeman, who names two kinds. In 1828, Thorburn offers in his catalog the seeds of the Green Globe and in 1882 of the French Green Globe and the Large Paris. The parts used are the lower parts of the leaves or scales of the calyx and the fleshy receptacles of the flowers freed from the bristles and seed down. In France, where it is much esteemed, the tender, central leaf-stalk is blanched and eaten like cardoons.

The most prominent distinction between varieties as grown in the garden, is the presence or absence of spines. Although J. Bauhin, 1651, says that seed from the same plant may produce both sorts, probably this comes from cross-fertilization between the kinds, and the absence or presence of spines is a true distinction. Pragus describes both forms in 1552, as do the majority of succeeding writers.

A second division is made from the form of the heads, the conical-headed and the globe.

I. Conical-Headed.

Of the varieties sufficiently described by Vilmorin, four belong to this class and they are all spiny. This form seems to constitute the French artichoke of English writers. The following synonymy seems justifiable:

Scolymus. Trag. 866. 1552. cum ic.
Carduus, vulgo Carciofi. I. Matth. 322. 1558.
Carduus aculeatus. Cam. Epit. 438. 1586. cum ic; Matth. ed. of 1598. 496. cum ic.
Thistle, or Prickly Artichoke. Lyte's Dod. 603. 1586.
Cinara sylvestris. Ger. 291. 1597. fig.
Carduus sive Scolymus sativus, spinosos. Bauh. J. 3:48. 1651. cum ic.
Artichokes, Violet. Quintyne 187; 1693; 178. 1704.
Conical-headed Green French. Mawe 1778.
French Artichoke. Mill. Diet. 1807; Amer. Gard. Books 1806, 1819, 1828, 1832, etc.
Vert de Provence. Vilm. 16. 1883.
De Roscoff. Vilm. 1. c.
De Saint Laud. oblong. Vilm. 1. c.
Sucre de Genes. Vilm. 1. c.

II. Globular-Headed .

To this form belong two of Vilmorin's varieties and various other varieties as described by other writers. The synonymy which seems to apply is:

Scolymus. Fuch. 792. 1542. cum ic.
Cardui alterum genus. Trag. 866. 1552.
Carduus, vulgo Carciofi. II. Matth. 322. 1558.
Carduus non aculeatus. Cam. Epit. 437. 1586. cum ic.; Matth. 497. 1598. cum ic.
Right artichoke. Lyte's Dod. 603. 1586.
Cinara maxima ex Anglia delata. Lob. Icon. 2:3. 1591.
Cinara maxima alba. Ger. 991. 1597. fig.
Cinara maxima anglica. Ger. 1. c.
Green or White. Quintyne 187. 1593; 178. 1704.
Red. Quintyne 1. c.
Globular-headed Red Dutch. Mawe 1778.
Globe Artichoke. Mill. Diet. 1807; Amer. Gard. Books 1806, 1819, 1828, etc.
Gros vert de Laon. Vilm. 1883.
Violet de Provence. Vilm. 1. c.

The color of the heads also found mention in the early writers. In the first division, the green is mentioned by Tragus, 1552; by Mawe, 1778; and by Miller's Dictionary, 1807; the purple by Quintyne, 1693. In the Globe class, the white is named by Gerarde, 1597; and by Quintyne, 1693; and the red by Gerarde, 1597; by Quintyne, 1693; and by Mawe, 1778; and Parkinson, 1629, named the red and the white.

The so-called wild plants of the herbalists seem to offer like variations to those we have noted in the cultivated forms, but the difficulty of identification renders it inexpedient to state a fixed conclusion. The heads are certainly no larger now than they were 250 years ago, for the Hortus Eystettensis figures one 15 inches in diameter. The long period during which the larger part of the present varieties have been known seems to justify the belief that modern origination has not been frequent. Le Jardinier Solitaire, 1612, describes early varieties, le blanc, le rouge and le violet. Worlidge, 1683, says there are several kinds, and he names the tender and the hardy sort. McMahon names the French and two varieties of the Globe in America in 1806. In 1824, in France, there were the blanc, rouge, violet and the gros vert de Laon. Petit 1826, adds Sucre de genes to the list. Noisette, 1829, adds the camus de Brittany.

The name given by Ruellius to the artichoke in France, 1536, is articols, from the Italian articoclos. He says it comes from arcocum of the Ligurians, cocali signifying the cone of the pine. The Romans call it carchiophos. The plant and the name came to France from Italy.

Cynara integrifolia Vahl. Spanish Cardoon. (This botanical binominal is only found in ipni, and there are no synonyms at all at all in large search engines. This leads me to believe that there is no such plant, that it's in fact another synonym of Cynara cardunculus. Shrug. -Henriette, Sep2006)

Spain. The plants are of large size, the midribs being very succulent and solid.

Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World, 1919, was edited by U. P. Hedrick.