Herb of the Week for 23rd March
By Lynn Kirkland
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
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
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
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 1600’s.
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.