Cardoon is a stately ornamental perennial vegetable. You won't find it at your greengrocer or at the supermarket, certainly a conversation piece for dinner parties! Despite the rareness, cardoons are quite easy to grow. Unlike artichokes, which are closely related to cardoons, mainly the stems are eaten fried, sauteed, pickled and in soups. Italians eat it raw, dipped in olive oil. The root is also edible, tasty, and can be used like parsnip.
When it gets around 90 cm tall the stalks must be blanched by tying all the stems together and cover it in cloth, burlap, cardboard or newspaper to blanch it for two to three weeks, leaving the top few inches of leaves to poke out of the covering. After harvesting the plant regrows from its roots. Unchecked, cardoons grow to around 3 meters and look stunning.
Bees absolutely love cardoon.
Gobbo Di Nizza is a rare cultivar from Italy.
Cardoon is used as a long history of medicinal use. It can improve liver and gall bladder functions, stimulates the secretion of digestive juices, helps to lower the levels of blood cholesterol, for jaundice, hepatitis, arteriosclerosis, diabetes, as a diuretic, to disperse stones in the internal organs and against rheumatism.
Cardoon has a taproot, and needs deep, rich soil. Amend with well rotted manure or plenty of compost . They like full sun. Cardoon likes water but well drained soil.
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 °C to USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 °C
Common names: artichoke thistle, cardone, cardoni, carduni, or cardi.