From:Tonawanda, NY Region: Northeast Topic: Non-Natives Title: Non-native, invasive Arctium minus in New York Answered by: Dean Garrett
For as long as I can remember, my family has been picking and eating a wild plant which we and other Italian families call " cardoons". I've often heard to it referred to burdock but no one knows the exact name and I would really like to know what it is. The plant has a very broad leaf and a stalk that resembles that of a celery stalk. Where we live in the northeast, these plants seem to appear in the late spring and again in the mid-summer. Any help in the identification of this plant would be greatly appreciated.
My Webster's Collegiate Dictionary defines cardoon as “a large perennial plant (Cynara cardunculus) related to the artichoke and cultivated for its edible root and leafstalks.” In the photos I've found, it doesn't appear to have the large leaves you describe, but the drawing in the last link shows a sort of celery-like stalk. It is also known as wild artichoke or thistle artichoke.
Burdock is defined as “any of a genus (Arctium) of coarse composite herbs bearing globular flower heads with prickly bracts.” Arctium minus, common burdock, is the most common species in North America. Its root has been commonly used for food in various places and time periods.
Both are very invasive Eurasian species that were introduced into the Americas as garden vegetables, but of the two only Arctium minus would likely be growing wild in New York. Though also edible, wild-growing Cynara cardunculus is quite prickly; you probably would have said it looked like a thistle if that's what you'd seen.
The word cardoon is derived from a Latin word for thistle, artichoke, or chard and was thus likely applied over time to several plants.
More Non-Natives Questions
Long-legged bugs eating roses in Richmond VA May 22, 2011 - There are bugs eating my roses. What can I do? They look like long bugs with a lot of legs. view the full question and answer
Firecracker plants not growing in Ft. Worth June 09, 2010 - I live in Fort Worth, TX and last fall planted several firecracker plants. It's now June and they're not growing. How can I tell if they are still alive? view the full question and answer
Vine Choices Scarce in Beaverton Oregon June 08, 2012 - Hi,
I am looking for a hearty vine that we could use to cling to and cover a cement wall that is about 8 feet tall and 30 feet long. It is on the south side of our house but never gets direct sunli... view the full question and answer
Possible non-native squash and gourd cross from Kyle TX June 10, 2012 - Last year I gathered seeds from the yellow squash plants that were grown from a seed packet (hybrid, I assume). Well, now the fruit produced by those plants seems to be a cross between a yellow squash... view the full question and answer
Coloration problems with non-native nandinas and queens wreath in Taylor, TX February 25, 2009 - This year my nandinas are extremely red and my queen's wreath blossoms deepened in color before the first freeze browned them out. What would cause this?
Thank you. view the full question and answer