Globe Artichoke

Globe Artichoke (Cynara scolymus)

A plant with a heart of gold!

Name that Artichoke!

Classification Chart 

Common Name: Globe Artichoke
Scientific Name: Cynara scolymus

You may recognize this vegetable simply when referred to as an “artichoke”, but there is a reason it was once named Cynara scolymus.Cynara” from the Latin for canine is given because of the similarity between the short spines of the artichoke plant and the teeth of a dog. “Scolymus” is derived from the Greek meaning thistle. This is appropriately named as the Globe Artichoke is a member of the thistle family.

The classification of the artichoke gives further understanding to its name and the reasoning behind it. Through examination of this classification, we can gain perspective on how this plant is related to other organisms. In a general sense, we also have the ability to recognize similarities between these organisms in structure, life style, reproduction, and a variety of other characteristics.




Comparison of Cells


 Domain – Eukarya: Cynara scolymus is considered to be a part of the Eukaryotes because the cells of the organism contain a true nucleus as well as other membrane-bound organelles. This distinguishes it from prokaryotes which do not possess either of these characteristics. Almost all eukaryotes are multicellular which allow the organism to have certain cells that are specialized for specific functions. An example of this would be chloroplasts which are present in C. scolymus.

This domain also includes animals such as:

Rusty Patched Bumble Bee (Bombus affinis





Chloroplast Diagram

 Kingdom – Plantae: It is considered to be a member of this kingdom due to a variety of traits. Most importantly, the Globe Artichoke is a photosynthetic autotroph. This means it makes its own energy by converting sunlight into usable energy known as glucose. The presence of chloroplasts, specialized cells used in the photosynthetic process, are a distinguishing feature for this kingdom. These cells are vitally important in the plant’s ability to generate food. The diagram to the left shows the basic structure of this unique cell. A variety of other distinctive qualities include cell walls made of cellulose, sugars are stored as starch, and other features that allow plants to reproduce effectively and survive on land. An alternation of generations is vital to the way plants are able to reproduce.

Contrast the differences with another organism that is also found in this kingdom:

Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba)! 


Artichoke Flower


Phylum– Anthophyta: This phylum is commonly known as the angiosperms which include all flowering plants. In the picture to the right, you can see that C. scolymus has a very large purple flower. All members of this phylum have seeds that are enveloped in some sort of protection and therefore are able to be dispersed via water, wind, or other vectors such as animals. Other members of this phylum include grasses, broad-leaved trees and shrubs, crops, and grains.

Check out another edible member of this phylum:

Pomegranate (Punaca granatum)! 

Artichoke Leaf




Class – Eudicotyledones: The class consists of nearly 170,000 species! This group is also known under the title “Dicots”. A dicot typically refers to plants that have seeds which contain 2 cotyledons. Dicots also usually have netlike leaf venation, vascular tissue arranged in a ring, presence of a taproot, and floral organs in multiples of four or five. This leaf venation is exemplified by the Globe Artichoke and can be seen in the photo to the left.

Check out this well known leafy member of this class:

Mistletoe (Viscum album)





Order – Asterales: This is the “daisy” order of angiosperms. It includes 11 families and almost 26,000 species.  This order is composed of many herbaceous species, along with a few trees and shrubs. A morphological similarity between members of this order is that the stamens are usually densely packed around the style and are sometimes even found fused around it. The majority of the species classified within the 2 largest families of this order are located in the northern hemisphere.

Another medicinal member of this order includes:
 Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)!


Mature Artichoke Seed

Family – Asteraceae: Formally known as Compositae, this family is mostly composed of herbs that reside in temperate zones. This is one of the largest families as it contains more than 25,000 species!  A characteristic that is distinguishing of this family is the presence of opposite, alternate or whirled leaves. The flowers of these organisms are composite, which means that they are made up of individual flowers. Each individual has the ability to produce a seed. In the photo to the right, these seeds are shown in a mature Globe Artichoke plant.

Did you realize that you consume these seeds when you consume another member of this family?
Sunflower (Helianthus annuus) 





Artichoke Thistle



Genus – Cynara: This genus includes about 10 species, but the most well known are Cynara scolymus and Cynara cardunculus. Cynara cardunculus is commonly known as the Artichoke Thistle. Similar to the Globe Artichoke, it has been found that C. cardunculus has antimicrobial and antioxidant properties.






Globe Artichokes



Species - C. scolymus: The Globe Artichoke is a perennial thistle with sturdy flowering stalks. It has dark gray lobed leaves and large flower heads comprised of many small florets. These florets are surrounded by large green bracts that have spiny tips. It is a tasty vegetable that is incredibly nutritious and recently has been found to have a variety of MEDICINAL USES.





Let's look at how Cynara scolymus RELATES to other organisms!

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University of Wisconsin - La Crosse