There are around 10 species of these thistle-like robust plants found around the Mediterranean. Enjoying warm, sunny locations, but due to their size, preferring a deep, rich soil. Lighter soils, will mean smaller plants. Some forms of cardoon, C. cardunculus are grown in the vegetable garden, where the edible leaves and stems are blanched (to make them less bitter). C. scolymus (which is likely to be a form or hybrid associated with C. cardunculus) is the globe artichoke, grown for its tasty but rather fiddly to prepare flower heads!

The huge rounded flowerheads with many tiny flowers produce nectar and pollen that is used by bumblebees, honeybees, leaf-cutter bees, butterflies and moths, hoverflies, beetles and a whole lot more. At the end of flowering, the seeds are favoured by goldfinches, linnets and other seed-eating birds, while thistledown is used by some to line their nests. The size and complexity of the flowering and fruiting heads makes them an excellent refuge for spiders and other small invertebrates and insectivorous birds can often be found searching through them.

Potted, but not quite ready for sale, check again soon or register your interest Growing on

You are now leaving Beth Chatto's Plants & Gardens to access the Beth Chatto Education Trust website.

Stay on current site
Continue to Education Trust site