Cardoon

Botanical Name :Cynara cardunculus
Family : Asteraceae – Aster family
Genus : Cynara L. – cynara
Species : Cynara cardunculus L. – cardoon
Kingdom : Plantae – Plants
Subkingdom : Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
Superdivision : Spermatophyta – Seed plants
Division : Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
Class : Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
Subclass : Asteridae
Order : Asterales

Common Names:Cardoon,artichoke thistle, cardone, cardoni, carduni or cardi

Habitat : Cardoon  is native to the Mediterranean, where it was domesticated in ancient times.Stony or waste places and in dry grassland, usually on clay

Description:
Cynara cardunculus is a PERENNIAL growing to 2 m (6ft) by 1 m (3ft 3in).
It is hardy to zone 6 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from Aug to September, and the seeds ripen from Sep to October. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, lepidoptera.

 

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The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and can grow in heavy clay and nutritionally poor soils.The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils..It cannot grow in the shade.It requires dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought.The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure.

Cultivation :
Prefers a light warm soil and an open position in full sun. For best results, this plant requires plenty of moisture in the growing season and a good rich soil , though another report says that it is drought tolerant once established. Plants grew very well with us in the hot and very dry summer of 1995, though they were looking very tatty by September. Tolerates most soils including heavy clays of both acid and alkaline nature, especially when grown in heavier or more spartan soils. Plants are reasonably wind resistant. This species is hardy to about -10°c. Plants are more likely to require protection from winter cold when they are grown in a heavy soil. Wet winters can do more harm than cold ones. At one time the cardoon was often grown for its edible stems but it has now fallen into virtual disuse. There are some named varieties. It is a very ornamental foliage plant and makes a very attractive feature in the garden. The leaves are long lasting in water and are often used in flower arrangements. Recent taxonomic revisions (1999) have seen the globe artichoke being merged into this species. However, since from the gardener’s point of view it is quite a distinctive plant, we have decided to leave it with its own entry in the database under Cynara scolymus. Plants seem to be immune to the predations of rabbits.

Propagation :
Seed – sow early spring in a greenhouse. Germination is usually quick and good, prick out the seedlings into individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle and plant them out into their permanent positions during the summer. It would be prudent to give the plants some winter protection in their first year. The seed can also be sown in situ in April. Sow the seed 2cm deep, putting 2 or 3 seeds at each point that you want a plant. Protect the seed from mice. Division of suckers. This is best done in November and the suckers overwintered in a cold frame then planted out in April. Division can also be carried out in March/April with the divisions being planted out straight into their permanent positions, though the plants will be smaller in their first year.

Edible Uses:
While the flower buds can be eaten much as the artichoke, more often the stems are eaten after being braised in cooking liquid. Battered and fried, the stems are also traditionally served at St. Joseph’s altars in New Orleans.

The stalks, which look like large celery stalks, can be served steamed or braised. They have an artichoke-like flavor. Cardoons are available in the market only in the winter months. In the U.S.A., it is rarely found in stores, but available in farmers’ markets, where it is available through May, June, and July. The main root can also be boiled and served cold.   Acclaimed chef Mario Batali calls the cardoon one of his favorite vegetables and says they have a “very sexy flavor.”

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Cardoons are also an ingredient in one of the national dishes of Spain, the cocido madrileño, a slow-cooking, one-pot, meat and vegetable dinner simmered in broth.

In the Abruzzi region of Italy, Christmas lunch is traditionally started with a soup of cardoons cooked in chicken broth with little meatballs (lamb or more rarely, beef), sometimes with the further addition of egg (which scrambles in the hot soup – called stracciatella) or fried chopped liver and heart.

Medicinal Uses:
Anticholesterolemic;  Cholagogue;  Digestive;  Diuretic.

The cardoon has become important as a medicinal herb in recent years following the discovery of cynarin. This bitter-tasting compound, which is found in the leaves, improves liver and gall bladder function, stimulates the secretion of digestive juices, especially bile, and lowers blood cholesterol levels. The leaves are anticholesterolemic, antirheumatic, cholagogue, digestive, diuretic, hypoglycaemic and lithontripic. They are used internally in the treatment of chronic liver and gall bladder diseases, jaundice, hepatitis, arteriosclerosis and the early stages of late-onset diabetes. The leaves are best harvested just before the plant flowers, and can be used fresh or dried.

The cardoon has become important as a medicinal herb in recent years following the discovery of cynarin. This bitter-tasting compound, which is found in the leaves, improves liver and gall bladder function, stimulates the secretion of digestive juices, especially bile, and lowers blood cholesterol levels.  The leaves  are used internally in the treatment of chronic liver and gall bladder diseases, jaundice, hepatitis, arteriosclerosis and the early stages of late-onset diabetes.

Other uses:
Cardoons are used as a vegetarian source of enzymes for cheese production. In Portugal, traditional coagulation of the curd relies entirely on this vegetable rennet. This results in cheeses such as the Nisa (D.O.P.), with a peculiar earthy, herbaceous and a slightly citric flavour that bears affinity with full-bodied or fortified wines.

Cardoon has attracted recent attention as a possible source of biodiesel. The oil, extracted from the seeds of the cardoon, and called artichoke oil, is similar to safflower and sunflower oil in composition and use

The plant is said to yield a good yellow dye, though the report does not say which part of the plant is used.

Disclaimer:
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Cynara%20cardunculus
http://www.nathankramer.com/garden/omaha/041002-18.JPG
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cardoon
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Cynara_cardunculus_(Kalmthout).jpg

http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=CYCA&photoID=cyca_004_ahp.tif

One thought on “Cardoon”

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