The cardoon looks a lot like a cross between an artichoke and a thistle. It produces beautiful thistle-like flowers but does not produce fruit like artichoke. Instead, it has celery-like stalks that are considered a tasty delicacy, either cooked or eaten fresh.
Both cardoons and artichokes are widely cultivated in the USDA plant hardiness zones 7 to 9. They are grown both for their ornamental features and edible parts. They both possess violet thistle-like flowers and silver foliage.
A Flower That Looks Like An Artichoke The Physical Difference
Cardoon is native to the Mediterranean region and was treasured in Greek-Roman and Persian cuisines. This plant remained popular and most common in American colonial gardens during the mediaeval and early modern European times.
Start the seeds indoors in the late winter or early spring. After the danger of frost passes, transplant the seedlings outside. You can also plant from the divided cardoon plants in early spring, leaving plenty of space for growth.