Author: Hon A/Prof Marius Rademaker, Dermatologist, Hamilton, New Zealand, 1999.
Member of the Asteraceae (Compositae) family
It is widely cultivated in the Mediterranean.
Large thistle-like flower heads (upto 15 cm) surrounded by fleshy bracts.
The buds are consumed as a vegetable. Also used for flower arranging. There is recent interest in a chemical extract of artichoke, silymarin (a flavanoid), as a possible cancer chemo-preventive agent.
The allergen in artichoke is thought to be Cynaropicrin. It seems to be released from cut stems and roots.
It is well recognised to cause hand dermatitis, particularly in pickers, market gardeners and flower arrangers. It is not known whether any of the allergen are found in the portion of the plant that is eaten, but there have been several reports of allergic rhinitis and asthma from ingested artichoke. Contact urticaria has also been reported following exposure to artichoke.
Other members of the Asteraceae (Compositae) family.
Jerusalem artichoke is a different species (Helianhus tuberosus).