What is that in your garden?

Posted by on July 8, 2011

By far the most awesome looking plant in the garden is the cardoon.

Standing tall and full, and dwarfing all the other plants, it makes a pretty impressive sight.

It is the plant that catches the most attention and gets the most questions. So what is cardoon?

Apparently, cardoon is not grown much in this country, but it is more common in Europe, especially Italy and France. We purchased it as a wee little plant from Prairie Trail Farm. Little did we know that it would come back year after year. This is its third year in the garden. It either survives the winter or reseeds itself.

Cardoon is related to the artichoke and you can see some resemblance in the emerging flower.

The flowers look like some kind of giant thistle.

The recipes that we’ve found for cardoon call for cooking, not the flower, but the stalk. The stalks are tough and covered with spiny things. So they have to be peeled and boiled for a long time otherwise the taste is rather bitter. The texture of the cooked stalks is somewhat like celery and the flavor is a bit like artichoke.

Cardoon likes cool weather and our summers can get pretty hot. So sometime in July it starts looking rather withered. But until then, we enjoy looking at this most impressive plant.

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