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ISHS Acta Horticulturae 1147: IX International Symposium on Artichoke, Cardoon and Their Wild Relatives

From Mediterranean basin to the Andean mountains, the long journey of the artichoke that unites different people and cultures

Author:   N. Calabrese
Keywords:   Cynara cardunculus, taxonomy, history, artistic records, world diffusion
DOI:   10.17660/ActaHortic.2016.1147.4
The artichoke is native of the Mediterranean basin, but the history of its domestication is not yet completely clear; certainly plants similar to the present artichoke, were known and appreciated by the ancient Greeks and Romans. Recent studies suggest that the artichoke domestication started in Roman times, around the 1st century AD probably in Sicily; then the crop was spread by Arabs, who dominated the southern Mediterranean during the Middle Ages. The period of greatest diffusion of the artichoke starts with the Modern Age. From Naples, it was brought to Florence in 1466 by Filippo Strozzi and from Tuscany it was soon spread across the rest of Europe. Even before 1530, the artichoke was grown in southern France, while in the following decades its presence is recorded in the Languedoc, in the Loire Valley and Ile of France; in Brittany the first artichokes were grown in the gardens of the Bishop in St. Paul de Leon. In the same period, the artichoke was introduced in England, probably by the Dutch. The diffusion of the artichoke had a considerable boost in the 18th and 19th century, when the French and the Spanish emigrants brought the plant in the United States, respectively, in Louisiana and in California. Also during the 18th and 19th century when European emigrants introduced the artichoke in South America (Argentina, Chile, Peru, Brazil). Currently, the artichoke world area harvested is of 131.000 ha, spread about 45% in Europe, mainly Italy, Spain and France, 31% in Africa (Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria), 16% in the Americas (Peru, Argentina, USA) and 8% in Asia (China, Turkey, Islamic Republic of Iran). In this paper are reported historical, artistic, linguistic and literature evidences, as well as statistical data concerning the diffusion and the importance of artichoke in the world.

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