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Large, coarse, herbaceous, thistlelike perennial plant (Cynara scolymus) of the family Asteraceae. The thick, edible scales and bottom part (heart) of the immature flower heads are a culinary delicacy. The artichoke is native to the Mediterranean and is cultivated extensively in other regions with rich soil and a mild, humid climate. The Jerusalem artichoke is a tuber and does not resemble the artichoke.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on artichoke, visit Britannica.com.