Helianthus tuberosus

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Common Name:  Jerusalem Artichoke, Sunchoke

Full to part sun, medium to moderately dry moisture level, best in fertile sandy loam, very strongly acid to moderately alkaline pH. 6-10 feet height, bright yellow flowers, blooms late summer to fall. Generously re-seeds itself and also sprouts from small tuber pieces accidentally left in the ground.

Germination Code: Best propagated from tubers bearing rhizomes. Can be started from seed but will be very delicate in first year.

Native Region: Statewide

Large, robust sunflower. Not related to artichokes. Edible tuber is highly nutritious, and plant was cultivated by Native Americans of the Great Plains. Tubers are delicious when boiled or roasted like potatoes. Eaten raw, they have a sweet, nut-like taste. Tubers begin to form in August and may become 4” long and 2-3” in diameter. Do not harvest the crop until after frost. Quality of edible tubers degrades unless plants are dug up on a regular basis and re-planted in fertile soil. Plant itself can be highly invasive, smothering out other plants nearby. Very messy growth habit and best in a naturalized landscape. Attracts bees and butterflies. Larval food for some butterflies, including Painted Lady. Seed heads attract birds. Livestock and deer eat the foliage and tubers.

Jerusalem Artichoke, Sunchoke - Helianthus tuberosus 1
Photo Courtesy of John Hilty http://www.illinoiswildflowers.info/
Jerusalem Artichoke, Sunchoke - Helianthus tuberosus 2
Photo Courtesy of Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center http://www.wildflower.org/