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May 8, 2009

Plant Anatomy 101: Artichokes!

Have you ever thought about what an artichoke actually is? It's such a strange looking vegetable. A friend of mine once told me that it was a flower, so I wanted to delve into this idea a little bit more and really get at the heart of the matter:

Artichokes originated in the southern Europe, mainly in the Mediterranean region. The plant of the artichoke can grow to be 6 feet wide and 3 to 4 feet tall. Artichokes are also in the thistle family and my friend was partially right when she said that an artichoke was a flower. Artichokes are actually the bud of a flower that has yet to bloom. Inside the bud is the meaty heart, which is protected by rows and rows of petals. The bases of the petals, the heart, and the entire stem are the edible parts of the plant while the rest of the petals and the feathery 'choke' are inedible. If the bud goes unharvested, it will eventually bloom into a purple or dark blue flower, which is also inedible.

The artichoke is definitely one of the most interesting vegetables, or flowers, that we eat! Teachers: visit the California Artichoke Advisory Board kid's corner web page for a fun crossword puzzle to teach your students about Artichokes!

Artichokes Photo
Artichoke Anatomy Diagram

1 comment:

zissou said...

There's nothing quite as tasty as fresh artichokes that have been steamed and dipped in olive oil and salt. Now I'm hungry!

I've heard that florists will pay a decent amount (~$5 each?) for artichokes that have actually flowered.