An unusual looking perennial, Cardoon 'Porto Spineless', is a dramatic upright plant with thistle-like blooms and silvery serrated leaves. A member of the Daisy family and cousin to the Artichoke, this plant is sometimes called "artichoke thistle." It was bred as a hardy, easier to handle variety than other strains that grow sharp spines along the stems. Designed as a beautiful ornamental, the plant's erect profile and gently curving leaves support beautiful purple bristles that look great when cut and remain long last for dried arrangements.
A unique edible with buds resembling an Artichoke in both look and taste, Cardoons have long been used in culinaryhistory and are still popular in Mediterranean cuisine. All parts of the plant may be eaten from flower to root, and taste delicious when steamed, roasted, braised or grilled. Try battering and frying the stems and roots, which is popular in Cajun cuisine, or use the flowers a tasty garnish. For the best flavor, harvest the flowering "chokes" when they first begin to open, while the rest of the plant can be picked and eaten at any time.
Though they can be susceptible to aphids and slugs, these tropical looking plants attract a variety of helpful insects like bees and butterflies. Typically blooming in the second season, Cardoons are drought resistant and need a lot of room to grow, tending to become invasive.
Unfortunately, we can not ship Cardoon to our friends in California. Sorry!
Our variety, Cynara cardunculus 'Porto Spineless', is without
the prickly spines typical of the species. It is perennial in Zones
7-9, where, late in the season, a central stem forms with flower buds
resembling small artichokes. Cardoons gained popularity for being a culinary delight in the Fourth Century, B.C. and remained a dietary staple throughout the Nineteenth Century.