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Sunny Flower
By Lynn Kirkland

 


By Lynn Kirkland

 

Herb of the Week for 23rd March
By Lynn Kirkland

Sunny Flower

When visitors to our gardens see the beautiful display of bright sunny flowers growing along our streambed, they often ask, Is it a sunflower or not?
The answer is no, it is plant called Jerusalem artichoke, which is in the same family.
Helianthus tuberosus is the botanical name and as indicated by this, it is the tuber that is the part used.
A knobbly tuber which has a sweetish taste similar to water chestnuts. Rich in inulin it is a source of carbohydrate which is said to be good for intestinal health as it has prebiotic properties.
The down side is they are renown for having a wind producing effect and we are not talking about the weather here.

Treat your Jerusalem artichokes like potatoes as far as cooking goes. They can be roasted or baked with their skins on or if peeling them put into a bowl of water with a little lemon juice to stop discolouration before you steam or boil them.

Even if you have no interest in eating them, Jerusalem artichokes are a lovely unusual plant for the garden. They are willing growers and multipliers and provide a bright spot in the garden at the end of summer.
Tubers can be left in the ground as long as it is not boggy and they will spring up again in summer. After flowering cut all the above ground part off and cover the area with mulch to bed them down for winter.

Do they come from Jerusalem one may ask? No apparently they are native to North America and they were taken to Europe by a French explorer in early 1600s. Samuel de Champlain described the taste like an artichoke so at least this explains part of the name.
In some books they are called sunchokes. Whatever the name we thoroughly enjoy the brightness that these easy to grow plants bring to the garden at this time of the year.


  
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