Jan. 9, 2018

Jerusalem artichoke, Helianthus tuberosus

There are many species of sunflowers out there. The Flora of North America lists 51. It's not surprising then that one of them ends up with another name. But Jerusalem artichoke seems strange. This plant has nothing to do with Jerusalem, or the Old World more generally , or with artichokes. The Italian for sunflower is girasol, so perhaps Jerusalem is a corruption of that. The tuberous roots are edible. When Champlain sent some roots to France, he compared the flavor to artichokes. That's more understandable, even if the edible (in some people's opinion) part of artichoke is the flower head. So, here we have a Jerusalem artichoke, now one of the two most common sunflowers. It grows in every state except AK, AZ, HI, NM, and NV, in MB, NB, NS, ON, PE, QC, and SK, and is now established in Europe. Lenawee Co MI, 9/21/12.