Cynara cardunculus

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Cynara cardunculus is a species of considerable economic importance. The globe artichoke, formerly treated as C. scolymus, was included as a horticulturally derived form of C. cardunculus (A. Wiklund 1992). The artichoke and the cardoon, another horticultural race of C. cardunculus, have been cultivated for centuries–the former for edible phyllary bases and receptacles, and the latter for edible stems and leaf rachises. That species has a darker side, however. Wild type races (artichoke thistles) are invasive and tenacious weeds that have infested Mediterranean climate areas of California, South America, South Africa, and Australia. Wiklund recognized two subspecies of C. cardunculus: subsp. cardunculus includes the artichoke, cardoon, and various wild types; subsp. flavescens includes some of the most invasive weedy members of the species. It is not certain that all of the weedy artichoke thistles in California are members of the latter subspecies.