Jerusalem Artichoke (a.k.a., Sunchoke)

The Jerusalem artichoke, also called the sunchoke, is a species of sunflower native to the eastern United States. It is cultivated for its tuber, which is used as a vegetable root.View of Jerusalem artichoke flower-heads. Photo by Paul Fenwick, 2005.

View of Jerusalem artichoke flower-heads. Photo by Paul Fenwick, 2005.

Despite its name, the Jerusalem artichoke has no relation to Jerusalem, and it is not a type of artichoke, though they are in the same family. When the Jerusalem artichoke was first discovered by Europeans it was called Girasole, the Italian word for sunflower. Over time the name Girasole transformed into Hierusalem and then to Jerusalem. The artichoke part of the Jerusalem artichoke's name comes from the taste of its edible tuber. To avoid confusion some people have recently started to refer to it as sunchoke.Jerusalem artichokes, or sunchokes, at Nash's. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons

Jerusalem artichokes, or sunchokes, at Nash's. Photo copyright 2009 by Zachary D. Lyons

Jerusalem artichokes were first cultivated by Native Americans long before the arrival of Europeans. French explorer Samuel de Champlain found them being grown at Cape Cod in 1605. For more information on Jerusalem artichokes, go to Wikipedia.