Taken on September 3, 2013
I was told when I bought this plant that it would never reach it's bloom stage in our climate. Last year when I planted cardoon, it did get big, but no where near blooming. This year, although it went into the garden later than last year, it has shot up and produced these artichoke type blooms, which are as spiky and unfriendly as they look.
This plant has been around since ancient times, but very few people I meet have ever heard of it. It's always the first plant they notice in the yard, and we always go for a visit and I almost always make the mistake of telling them it's related to rhubarb. But it is in the artichoke family, also known as an artichoke thistle.
I think I've made the mistake, because when the plants are young, you can harvest and consume the spines , just like rhubarb. I haven't tried this because I want the plant only as an interesting specimen.
I tried to grow my own plants from seed this past year, but was unsuccessful due to the problem that my cats loved to eat them. Even after I moved them out to the greenhouse, they wouldn't recover.
Maybe I will be able collect seed from these blooms and try again next year. If I get enough of them going, I may even look into a recipe for those spines and give that a try.
At the very least, I expect that these blooms will dry nicely and work well in a dried arrangement or a bowl filler.