The artichoke is a perennial thistle that originated in the Mediterranean and is technically a flower bud that has not yet bloomed. One artichoke plant can produce more than 20 artichokes per year. They were first mentioned around 40-70 AD in “The Greek Herbal of Dioscorides”, a book on the medicinal uses of plants.
The Greeks and Romans considered them to be an aphrodisiac which, until the 16th century, many countries prohibited women from eating them.
California produces 100% of the United States artichoke crop, with Castroville, California calling itself the “Artichoke Center of the World.” In 1947 Marilyn Monroe, then still going by her given name Norma Jean, was crowned Castroville’s first Artichoke Queen.
Artichoke is the primary flavor of the popular Italian liqueur Cynar.