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Helianthus tuberosus L.
Jerusalem Artichoke, Sunchoke
Asteraceae (Aster Family)
Synonym(s): Helianthus tomentosus, Helianthus tuberosus var. subcanescens
USDA Symbol: HETU
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
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial
Size Notes: Up to about 10 feet tall.
Fruit: Fruit is a cypsela (pl. cypselae). Though technically incorrect, the fruit is often referred to as an achene.
Bloom InformationBloom Color: Yellow
Bloom Time: Aug , Sep , Oct , Nov
DistributionUSA: 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 ConditionsWater 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.
BenefitUse 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 InsectsSpecial Value to Native Bees
This information was provided by the Pollinator Program at The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.
Mr. Smarty Plants says
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National Wetland Indicator Status
BibliographyBibref 946 - Gardening with Prairie Plants: How to Create Beautiful Native Landscapes (2002) Wasowski, Sally
Bibref 1294 - The Midwestern Native Garden: Native Alternatives to Nonnative Flowers and Plants An Illustrated Guide (2011) Adelman, Charlotte and Schwartz, Bernard L.
Search More Titles in Bibliography
Web ReferenceWebref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
From the ArchiveWildflower Newsletter 1994 VOL. 11, NO.6 - Wildflower Center Featured Non-Profit in Neiman Marcus Christmas Book, Dana Leav...
Additional resourcesUSDA: Find Helianthus tuberosus in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Helianthus tuberosus in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Helianthus tuberosus
MetadataRecord Modified: 2022-12-28
Research By: TWC Staff