fresh artichokes at farmers market


(Cynara cardunculus var. scolymus) or artichoke is the domesticated version of the wild cardoon (Cynara cardunculus) which is native to the Mediterranean area. Early  records during the Greek Classical period first indicates that varieties of artichokes were being cultivated in present day Sicily. These ancient Greeks were then calling them "kaktos". Improved variants of the artichoke were introduced to England by the Dutch. King Henry VIII grew them in his gardens at Newhall in 1530. By the 19th century, they eventually made it to the United States by way of Louisiana via French immigrants and  also by way of California via Spanish immigrants. 
The edible parts of artichokes and cardoons are the flower bloom and its bud. Cardoons are used as a vegetarian substitute of enzymes for the production of cheese. In Portugal, curd coagulation relies entirely on Cardoon vegetable rennet. Some cheeses  made this way are the Serra da Estrela and Nisa.Artichokes can be produced from seeds or from vegetative means such as division, root cuttings, or micropropagation. Although some cultivars have been developed to be better suited for USDA hardiness zones below 7, it will require frost protection in order to safely grow. They are technically perennials, however in colder northern climates, they can be grown as annuals.