Cynara scolymus is a species of thistle largely cultivated for its edible flower buds called artichokes. However, this prickly plant has benefits beyond a food source. Artichoke leaf was regarded for its healthful properties in ancient Greece and is still used by western folk herbalists today. Bitter artichoke leaves are typically employed in extracts or macerated in liqueurs.
The artichoke is one of the world's oldest vegetables. It was first grown in eastern Africa and then made its way to Europe via Egypt. Images of artichokes are found on ancient Egyptian papyri and on sacrificial altars. Other common names include cynara and globe artichoke.
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