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Helianthus tuberosus (Jerusalem artichoke)
Bloodworth, Stefan

Helianthus tuberosus

Helianthus tuberosus L.

Jerusalem Artichoke, Sunchoke

Asteraceae (Aster Family)

Synonym(s): Helianthus tomentosus, Helianthus tuberosus var. subcanescens


USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N)

A large, robust yellow sunflower with broad, thick leaves and rough, hairy stems. Stout, rough, branching stems bear large golden-yellow flower heads. Flower heads with yellow rays and discs are numerous in the upper portions of the 6-10 ft. perennial.

This large, coarse sunflower was cultivated by Native Americans of the Great Plains and has spread eastward. The edible tuber is highly nutritious and, unlike potatoes, contains no starch, but rather carbohydrate in a form that is metabolized into natural sugar. In 1805 Lewis and Clark dined on the tubers, prepared by a native woman, in what is now North Dakota. The common name is a corruption of the Italian girasole, meaning "turning to the sun."


From the Image Gallery

15 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Size Notes: Up to about 10 feet tall.
Leaf: Yellow-Green
Fruit: Fruit is a cypsela (pl. cypselae). Though technically incorrect, the fruit is often referred to as an achene.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Yellow
Bloom Time: Aug , Sep , Oct , Nov


USA: AL , AR , CO , CT , DC , DE , FL , GA , IA , ID , IL , IN , KS , KY , LA , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , MO , MS , NC , ND , NE , NH , NJ , NY , OH , OK , OR , PA , RI , SC , SD , TN , TX , UT , VA , VT , WA , WI , WV , WY
Canada: ON , SK
Native Distribution: Ont. to GA, w. to Sask., n.e. WY & e. TX; naturalized elsewhere & may be naturalized in the eastern part of stated range
Native Habitat: Waste places; thickets; woodland borders

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Dry , Moist
CaCO3 Tolerance: Medium
Soil Description: Moist to drying soil.
Conditions Comments: Jerusalem artichoke is aggressive and escapes from garden settings.


Use Wildlife: Foliage and tubers are eaten by livestock and deer. Seed heads attract birds. The plant provides cover for wildlife.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes

Value to Beneficial Insects

Special Value to Native Bees

This information was provided by the Pollinator Program at The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.

Mr. Smarty Plants says

Edible Plants for North Georgia
January 10, 2010
We are planning a forest food garden in the hollers of the N GA Mountains. Which edible fruit, nut, berry, herb and creepers would be best for this reddish, clay-like soil? The food garden is in...
view the full question and answer

Edible Plants for a Virginia Rain Garden
October 21, 2009
Can you recommend edible plants that would be appropriate for use in a rain garden? I'm located in Charlottesville, VA, but this can be in general as well.
view the full question and answer

National Wetland Indicator Status

This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

Web Reference

Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.

From the Archive

Wildflower Newsletter 1994 VOL. 11, NO.6 - Wildflower Center Featured Non-Profit in Neiman Marcus Christmas Book, Dana Leav...

Additional resources

USDA: Find Helianthus tuberosus in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Helianthus tuberosus in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Helianthus tuberosus


Record Modified: 2022-12-28
Research By: TWC Staff

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