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Member of the Asteraceae or Compositae (aster or sunflower) family.
Native to the Mediterranean region and the Canary Islands.
Related species include sunflower, daisy, gerbera and chrysanthemum.
Flower head is up to 2 inches across, composed of green, tightly overlapping bracts from which emerge purple tassel-like flowers.
Stems are 20-24 inches long.
Plant is a large herbaceous perennial, classed as a dicotyledon, leaves not parallel veined.
Flowers have no fragrance.
The edible portion is also used in flower arrangements and is classified as a vegetable, not a fruit, since it is composed of an enlarged receptacle and thickened base of bracts or modified leaves. Fruit developes from flowers.
Cynara is in reference to the spines below the flower which are likened to dog’s teeth.
The Compositae or aster family is vast, with over 20,000 species, and is also one of the most developed families. It was named Compositae because the flowers are actually a “composite” of many individual flowers into one head. Hence, when children pull one “petal” off at a time, saying “she/he loves me, loves me not”, they are actually removing a complete flower, not just a petal.
Can be used as dried flower. Either let them dry on the plant or remove in full bloom and hang them in a dry, hot area for drying.
After drying, the flowers can be coated or sprayed with shellac or paint .