The stunning purple of the Cardoon flower

a cardoon in bloom
the Cardoon is an edible European gourmet plant that was brought to America for the wealthy settlers.

The cardoon is an edible plant that was popular in Greek, Roman, and Persian cuisine. The plants were imported into the United States in the early 19th century. At that time it was admired for its

taste. Today the cardoon is not as popular to eat as it once was. Not that the plant is any “less edible” today than it was then, rather food tastes have changed over the years. Today it is admired as a beautiful plant and not food.

I had to laugh as I was writing the very brief history of the plant. It somewhat reminds me of the movie finding nemo when the sharks were saying “fish are our friends and not food” but anyway. This specific plant was photographer at the botanical gardens at UNCC (University of North Carolina – Charlotte Campus). This botanical garden is open to all and has a wide variety of flowers and plants in its collection. When I originally saw the plant I photographed it and moved on. On my way back through the garden I stopped to admire its structure, very complex, is an understatement. I photographed it again from a few different angles. The image you see is the one of the series that I like the best.

What was most striking to me was the purple flower top on what looked sort of like an artichoke. The flower instead of having flat – leaf like petals had thistle-like petals and they were of course purple. Purple is the color of royalty. Satisfied that I had caught the image I was looking for I left the garden for the day and came home to figure out exactly what this weird looking purple flowered plant named a cardoon really was a flower or a plant.

It was much to my surprise that I learned that this was an edible plant and not just some weird and exotic flower. Even to this day it surprises me that this plant is edible, however I believe that I would much rather view it than actually eat it. I am open to new food types and cuisines so if someone knew how to cook it properly I would most likely be open to trying it. It appears that many people enjoy this plant in the United States even though it is not typically found in grocery stores.

In my research I have found that the flower not only kind of resembles and somewhat tastes like an artichoke.   The stalks which resemble celery when the plant is mature are braised and served and the enzymes from the plant are used for vegetable rennet in cheese production. Interestingly enough, if you are a liqueur connoisseur cardoon is one of the herbs that give the Italian liqueur Amaro its bitterness. In New Orleans, this plant’s stalk is typically battered and fried and placed on St. Joseph’s Alters for the Catholic feast of St. Joseph’s Day which is typically March 19th.

So I have to wonder if this plant will ever make it on a show on food network or something. It’s interesting enough. It has somewhat a unique flavor or challenging flavor, from what I have read, and you know the plant is rather well beautiful.

Until next time art on friends……

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Author: Chris Flees

I am an artist, art promoter, and art marketing professional who specializes and blogs primarily about art topics and the "behind the scenes" of my subject and images. Occasionally I blog about Christian topics.