Cardoon is a stunning accent plant in the garden, with its giant grey leaves and its thistle-like blue-violet flowers. Easy to grow, and does very well here in our Mediterranean climate. Harvest the ribs while the plant is in its low rosette form, strip the leaflets from the rib and boil in salted water to pull out the bitter flavour. Chop and sauté with garlic and butter and serve in pastas or other recipes calling for artichoke hearts. Try making a cardoon gratin and you will be sold. Reseeds easily and can become invasive!
Water: Well adapted to dry conditions, drought tolerant, reseeds and can become invasive
Hardiness: Disappears in winter, and then re-blooms in the spring
Habit: Herbaceous perennial to 8' tall by 3' wide. Plants have a large and deep taproot and are very susceptible to gophers.
Light: Full Sun
Origin: Western and central Mediterranean region, where it was domesticated in ancient times and still occurs as a wild plant