Cynara cardunculus (cardoon)
- Summary of Invasiveness
- Taxonomic Tree
- Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature
- Plant Type
- Distribution Table
- History of Introduction and Spread
- Risk of Introduction
- Habitat List
- Hosts/Species Affected
- Host Plants and Other Plants Affected
- Growth Stages
- Biology and Ecology
- Latitude/Altitude Ranges
- Air Temperature
- Rainfall Regime
- Soil Tolerances
- Natural enemies
- Notes on Natural Enemies
- Means of Movement and Dispersal
- Pathway Causes
- Pathway Vectors
- Impact Summary
- Economic Impact
- Environmental Impact
- Threatened Species
- Social Impact
- Risk and Impact Factors
- Uses List
- Similarities to Other Species/Conditions
- Prevention and Control
- Distribution Maps
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PicturesTop of page
IdentityTop of page
Preferred Scientific Name
- Cynara cardunculus
Preferred Common Name
Other Scientific Names
- Carduus cardunculus (L.) Baill.
- Carduus cynara E.H.L. Krause
- Carduus scolymus Baill.
- Cnicus communis Lam.
- Cynara corsica Viv.
- Cynara ferox Ten. ex Steud.
- Cynara horrida Aiton
- Cynara spinosissima J. Presl & C. Presl
- Cynara sylvestris Lam.
International Common Names
- English: artichoke; desert artichoke; European cardoon; globe artichoke; scotch thistle; Scottish thistle; Spanish artichoke; wild artichoke; wild cardoon
- Spanish: alcachofa; alcaucil; cardo; cardo de comer
- French: artichaut commun; carde; cardon d’Espagne
- Russian: artišok ispanskij
- Arabic: al harshuff
Local Common Names
- Finland: Isoartisokka
- Germany: artishocke; gemüseartishocke; gemüse-artishocke; kardone
- Italy: carciofo
- Netherlands: kardoen
- Portugal: alcachofra; cardo
- Spain: card; card comestible; card comú; herbacol
- Sweden: kardon
- UK/England and Wales: march-ysgall
- CYUCA (Cynara cardunculus)
Summary of InvasivenessTop of page
C. cardunculus is an erect perennial herb, commonly known as cardoon or artichoke thistle. Native to southern Europe and North Africa, it has been widely introduced and is recognised as invasive in parts of Australia, the USA, Chile and Argentina. It can form dense monocultures, displacing native vegetation and degrading native plant communities. In California, it is categorized as a Most Invasive Wildland Pest Plant, category A-1, on the Californian Exotic Pest Plants of Greatest Ecological Concern. It can aggressively invade and disrupt natural habitats and has been described as a robust invasive plant that exhibits characteristics of the world’s worst weeds.
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Phylum: Spermatophyta
- Subphylum: Angiospermae
- Class: Dicotyledonae
- Order: Asterales
- Family: Asteraceae
- Genus: Cynara
- Species: Cynara cardunculus
Notes on Taxonomy and NomenclatureTop of page
Cynara cardunculus is an accepted species of the Asteraceae family, sometimes referred to as the Compositae family (Weeds of Australia, 2016). The Plant List (2013) includes 44 named species from the genus Cynara, 11 of which are accepted species names. The Plant List (2013) has 17 recorded synonyms.
Cynara is derived from the Greek word, meaning ‘dog’, and cardunculus is a combination of the Latin words ‘carduus’ and ‘uncus’, meaning ‘thistle’ and ‘hook’ or ‘claw’, respectively. Thus the name, Cynara cardunculus, alludes the sharp claw like bracts around the flower head (Parsons and Cuthbertson, 2001).
C. cardunculus is commonly referred to as artichoke thistle or cardoon (Weeds of Australia, 2016). It is sometimes mistakenly referred to as globe artichoke, a closely related cultivated species (Australian Government, 2016).
Recent studies regarding the classification of the Cynara genus have sparked debate over whether the wild cardoon, cultivated cardoon (Cynara altilis) and globe artichoke (Cynara scolymus) should be classified as different species or as subspecies (CIP, 2016). Wiklund (1992) supports, through a study of morphology and phytogeography of the Cynara genus, that wild cardoon, globe artichoke and cultivated cardoon are a single species and should therefore be classified as subspecies. Rottenberg and Zohary (1996) concluded that wild cardoon is the ancestor of the cultivated globe artichoke and cardoon, further supporting the argument for the classification as subspecies.
In this datasheet, globe artichoke (C. scolymus), cultivated cardoon (C. altilis) and wild cardoon (C. cardunculus) are referred to as separate species. However, it is important to note that other sources (The Plant List, 2013; GISD, 2016) recognise these plants as varieties: cultivated artichoke C. cardunculus var. scolymus (L.) Fiori, the wild cardoon C. cardunculus var. sylvestris (Lam.) Fiori and the leafy cultivated cardoon C. cardunculus var. altilis DC (Pignone and Sonnante, 2004).
DescriptionTop of page
C. cardunculus is an erect perennial herb that can grow between 60 and 150 cm, but has been known to grow as tall as 2 m with a spread of 2 m (Weeds of Australia, 2016; Elzebroek and Wind, 2008). It has a large taproot that regenerates each year (Kelly and Pepper, 1996). The root can grow to the depth of 2 m (Parsons and Cuthbertson 2001). The stems are thick and rigid, which often branch in the upper parts, they are longitudinally ribbed and covered in a cotton down. The above-ground portion of the plant dies down each year, but off-shoots rise from the rootstock next growing season (Elzebroek and Wind, 2008).
The leaves form a basal rosette that can be as large as 120 by 30 cm. The leaves further up the stem are comparatively smaller, 10-50 cm in length. The leaves are greyish-green on the upper surface and slightly hairy. On the underside they are covered in dense hair giving a white wooly appearance. Each leaf is deeply lobed, with each lobe often partly divided again. The tips of the leaves are spiked with yellowish/orange spines, 5-20 mm long.
The inflorescence occurs singly at the top of a branch on a thick stalk, 1-6 cm long. The flower heads are almost round in shape and grow to be 4-5cm across. They consist of blue, pink or purple florets arranged on a fleshy receptacle, and enclosed by a number of large bracts. The bracts are purplish in colour and taper to end in a flattened spine.
The seeds of C. cardunculus are 6-8 mm long, four sided and smooth. They are light grey, brown or black in colour, sometimes with longitudinal streaks. At the top of each seed is a circle of feathery hairs, 25-40 mm in length that readily fall off (Weeds of Australia, 2016).
Plant TypeTop of page Herbaceous
DistributionTop of page
C. cardunculus is native to the Mediterranean basin in both southern Europe and North Africa. It has also been naturalized in parts of Australia and New Zealand, the USA, Mexico and South America (Weeds of Australia, 2016). C. cardunculus is also reported in northern parts of Europe and the Middle East, and isolated records from Central and East Asia (GBIF, 2016).
Distribution TableTop of page
The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.
|Continent/Country/Region||Distribution||Last Reported||Origin||First Reported||Invasive||Reference||Notes|
|China||Present||Present based on regional distribution.|
|Turkey||Present||Native||Weeds of Australia, 2016|
|-Canary Islands||Present||Native||Weeds of Australia, 2016|
|Mexico||Present||Introduced||Invasive||PIER, 2016; USDA-ARS, 2016||Guanajuato, Michoacan, Queretaro|
|USA||Present||Present based on regional distribution.|
|Argentina||Present||Introduced||Invasive||GBIF, 2016; Weeds of Australia, 2016||Entre Ríos, La Pampa, Argentina Distrito Federal, Mendoza, Bueno Aires, Catamarca|
|Brazil||Present||Introduced||Weeds of Australia, 2016|
|-Rio Grande do Sul||Present||Introduced||GBIF, 2016|
|Chile||Present||Introduced||Invasive||GBIF, 2016; ISSG, 2016||Valparaíso, Maule, Coquimbo, Biobio, Santiago, O’Higgins, Juan Fernandez Islands|
|-Easter Island||Present||Introduced||GBIF, 2016|
|Ecuador||Present||Introduced||Invasive||PIER, 2016; USDA-ARS, 2016|
|Peru||Present only in captivity/cultivation||Introduced||USDA-ARS, 2016|
|Uruguay||Present||Introduced||Weeds of Australia, 2016|
|Cyprus||Present||Native||Weeds of Australia, 2016|
|France||Present||Native||Weeds of Australia, 2016||Southern France|
|Italy||Present||Native||GBIF, 2016; Weeds of Australia, 2016||Sicily, Sardinia, Vatican City|
|Spain||Present||Native||Weeds of Australia, 2016||Baleares|
|UK||Present||Introduced||Weeds of Australia, 2016|
|Yugoslavia (former)||Present||Native||Weeds of Australia, 2016|
|Australia||Present||Present based on regional distribution.|
|-Australian Northern Territory||Present||AVH, 2015|
|-New South Wales||Present||Introduced||Invasive||PIER, 2016||Sub-coastal regions|
|-Queensland||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Weeds of Australia, 2016||South-eastern QLD|
|-South Australia||Widespread||Introduced||Invasive||Weeds of Australia, 2016||South-eastern SA|
|-Tasmania||Present||Introduced||Weeds of Australia, 2016|
|-Victoria||Widespread||Introduced||Invasive||ISSG, 2016; Weeds of Australia, 2016|
|-Western Australia||Present||Introduced||Weeds of Australia, 2016||South-western WA|
|New Caledonia||Present||Introduced||PIER, 2016||cultivated|
|New Zealand||Present||Introduced||Invasive||PIER, 2016; Weeds of Australia, 2016|
History of Introduction and SpreadTop of page
C. cardunculus has been introduced and has spread in many temperate regions of the world. In the USA it is believed to have been introduced as an edible plant (Parsons and Cuthbertson, 2001). Kelly and Pepper (1996) suggest that C. cardunculus was introduced to the USA as cultivated cardoon in the mid 1800s, which subsequently escaped and propagated by seed, resulting in a reversion to its wild characteristics.
Although unconfirmed, it is likely that C. cardunculus was introduced to Australia initially for horticultural purposes. The earliest record is from Adelaide in 1839. In 1845 it was known to have been sold in a Tasmanian nursery as a culinary plant. It was also known to be sold as an ornamental flower for New Year celebrations in Melbourne. By 1879 C. cardunculus had become naturalized in South Australia (Parsons and Cuthbertson, 2001).
In South America introduction occurred earlier. This is evident by Charles Darwin’s reference to the already established and extensive spread of C. cardunculus across the South American pampas in 1833 when Darwin reached Argentina on the HMS Beagle voyage (Mack, 1989).
IntroductionsTop of page
|Introduced to||Introduced from||Year||Reason||Introduced by||Established in wild through||References||Notes|
|Natural reproduction||Continuous restocking|
|Australia||mid 1800s||Horticulture (pathway cause)||Yes||Parsons and Cuthbertson (2001)||Introduced from the Mediterranean basin. Earliest record in Adelaide 1839|
|USA||mid 1800s||Horticulture (pathway cause)||Yes||Kelly and Pepper (1996)||Introduced from the Mediterranean basin. Escaped from cultivation, and subsequently propagated|
Risk of IntroductionTop of page
This species is reported as a significant weed in the USA, Australia and South America. Considered to be a highly invasive species, its spread and risk of further introduction should be of concern.
HabitatTop of page
It is well adapted to Mediterranean regions and occurs in disturbed areas, pastures or rangelands, and undisturbed habitats such as riparian woodlands, grasslands, coastal scrub and, chaparral habitats (Kelly and Pepper, 1996).
Habitat ListTop of page
|Terrestrial – Managed||Cultivated / agricultural land||Principal habitat||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Cultivated / agricultural land||Principal habitat||Productive/non-natural|
|Managed grasslands (grazing systems)||Principal habitat||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Managed grasslands (grazing systems)||Principal habitat||Natural|
|Disturbed areas||Principal habitat||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Disturbed areas||Principal habitat||Natural|
|Rail / roadsides||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Rail / roadsides||Present, no further details||Natural|
|Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-natural||Natural grasslands||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Natural grasslands||Present, no further details||Natural|
|Riverbanks||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Riverbanks||Present, no further details||Natural|
|Scrub / shrublands||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Scrub / shrublands||Present, no further details||Natural|
|Coastal dunes||Present, no further details||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Coastal dunes||Present, no further details||Natural|
Hosts/Species AffectedTop of page
C. cardunculus is known to be a significant agricultural pest, in particular pastoral activity (Weeds of Australia, 2016). Once established C. cardunculus can become the dominant vegetation in an area by monopolising light, moisture and nutrients from the soil. In Australia it has known to adversely affect pastures, and lucerne, by crop contamination. The prickly nature of the herb deters grazing sheep and cattle (Parsons and Cuthbertson, 2001). A thick infestation can also limit the movement of livestock (Thomsen et al., 1986).
Host Plants and Other Plants AffectedTop of page
|Medicago sativa (lucerne)||Fabaceae||Main|
Growth StagesTop of page Post-harvest, Vegetative growing stage
Biology and EcologyTop of page
C. cardunculus principally reproduces by seed, however new plants can be germinated from pieces of cut root (Parsons and Cuthbertson, 2001). Although the flowers are self-compatible, they are predominantly cross-pollinated due to protandry (Rottenberg and Zohary, 1996).
A single plant may produce more than a dozen flowers, and a single flower head can yield up to 200 seeds. Plant and flower size does vary with seasonal conditions; drier years will see smaller plants and flowers and subsequently less seeds when compared to a wetter year (Kelly, 2000).
Growth stages and life history
C. cardunculus is a perennial herb that can survive for a number of years (over 10) re-sprouting annually from its large perennial taproot (Kelly, 2000; Archontoulis et al., 2010). During it's natural cycle, cardoon sprouts in autumn, passes the winter in a rosette form and in spring develops a floral scape that dries in the summer, while the roots remain alive. Beginning in the autumn, the buds in the upper parts of the roots develop a new rosette in order to continue the cycle for several years (Bassam, 2010). Dispersed seeds primarily germinate after autumn rains, and develop slowly through winter, though germination may occur at any time of the year (Parsons and Cuthbertson, 2001). More rapid growth occurs through spring and as the flower stems develop the lower rosette leaves begin to die off. Seedlings generally do not flower in their first year, rather their energy is focused on the development of its deep taproot. New growth occurs with the autumn rains, and the cycle starts over (Parsons and Cuthbertson, 2001).
C. cardunculus is found in a range of climates, though predominantly prefers its native Mediterranean type climate, cool humid winter and hot dry summers. It can tolerate high temperatures, and drought conditions in the summer (Archontoulis et al., 2010). Cardoon is well adapted to Mediterranean regions and occurs in disturbed areas, pastures or rangelands, and undisturbed habitats such as riparian woodlands, grasslands, coastal scrub and, chaparral habitats (Kelly and Pepper, 1996). The plant is quite sensitive to frost in the seedling stage but established plants are more frost tolerant (Neagu, 2013).
For good development of the plants, rainfall during autumn, winter and spring months should be about 400mm or more. Low rainfall significantly impacts biomass production.
C. cardunculus favours light deep and limy soils (pH optimum 6-6.8),with the capacity of retaining winter and spring water in the subsoil (1-3m). It avoids shallow calcareous soils (Pignone and Sonnante, 2004); nonetheless it can tolerate poor stony soils (Archontoulis et al., 2010). Its large vertical taproot enables the plant greater access to nutrients and water within the soil profile (Ierna and Mauromicale, 2010).
ClimateTop of page
|BS - Steppe climate||Tolerated||> 430mm and < 860mm annual precipitation|
|BW - Desert climate||Tolerated||< 430mm annual precipitation|
|Cf - Warm temperate climate, wet all year||Preferred||Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, wet all year|
|Cs - Warm temperate climate with dry summer||Preferred||Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry summers|
Latitude/Altitude RangesTop of page
|Latitude North (°N)||Latitude South (°S)||Altitude Lower (m)||Altitude Upper (m)|
Air TemperatureTop of page
|Parameter||Lower limit||Upper limit|
|Absolute minimum temperature (ºC)||-23||-20|
|Mean annual temperature (ºC)||10||22|
|Mean maximum temperature of hottest month (ºC)||22|
|Mean minimum temperature of coldest month (ºC)||-3||18|
RainfallTop of page
|Parameter||Lower limit||Upper limit||Description|
|Mean annual rainfall||400||860||mm; lower/upper limits|
Rainfall RegimeTop of page Uniform
Soil TolerancesTop of page
- seasonally waterlogged
Special soil tolerances
Natural enemiesTop of page
|Natural enemy||Type||Life stages||Specificity||References||Biological control in||Biological control on|
Notes on Natural EnemiesTop of page
The artichoke fly (Terellia fuscicornis) is native to the Mediterranean region and was recently accidently introduced to California. The fly’s larvae feed on the mature flower head of C. cardunculus and C. scolymus. Due to C. scolymus flower heads being cultivated prior to maturity it does not affect commercial crops (DiTomaso et al., 2013).
Means of Movement and DispersalTop of page
C. cardunculus seeds are topped by a circle of feathery hairs, presumably to aid dispersal by wind, however the relatively heavy seed is only dispersed short distances in this manner (Weeds of Australia, 2016). Seeds are usually carried by wind no more than 20 m from the mother plant (Kelly, 2000). Marushia and Holt (2006) observed a dramatic difference in the dispersal distance of seeds when comparing vegetated and non-vegetated (ie. disturbed sites) sites. In non-vegetated sites, seeds were found to disperse up to 40 m, compared to 20 m in vegetated sites. However, in another study Marushia and Holt (2008) found that the main majority of seeds established themselves no more than 2 m from their mother plant. Nonetheless over a number of years the dispersal of seeds can result in large established populations of C. cardunculus (Kelly, 2000).
Kelly (2000) observed that water and gravity also play a role in the natural dispersal of seed by studying the establishment of C. cardunculus on hillsides.
Vector Transmission (Biotic)
C. cardunculus seeds are also known to be dispersed by birds, cattle, sheep and other mammals (Parsons and Cuthbertson, 2001). The seeds provide a food source for birds; as such they may carry the seeds some distance (Kelly and Pepper, 1996). In addition seeds may attach to passing animals and dispersed further distances (Kelly, 2000).
The spread of C. cardunculus along roadsides suggests seed dispersal may be facilitated by vehicles, resulting in long distance dispersal of seeds. The ability of C. cardunculus to germinate from cut root pieces can lead to dispersal where roots have been mechanically disturbed. In addition, inappropriate disposal of roots and flower heads are a cause of dispersal (Kelly, 2000).
Historically, in Australia, C. cardunculus was introduced for cultivation and horticultural purposes (Parsons and Cuthbertson, 2001). In the USA the presence of C. cardunculus can be attributed to the introduction of its cultivated close relatives, the globe artichoke and cultivated cardoon (Thomsen et al., 1986).
Pathway CausesTop of page
|Cut flower trade||Careless disposal results in seeds being spread||Yes||Yes||Parsons and Cuthbertson, 2001|
|Disturbance||Commonly colonises disturbed fields associated with overgrazing||Yes||Thomsen et al., 1986|
|Hitchhiker||Seeds attach to passing animals or vehicles||Yes||Yes||Kelly, 2000|
|Horticulture||Escaped cultivation, grown from seed C. cardunculus reverts to its wild form||Yes||Yes||Kelly and Pepper, 1996|
|Ornamental purposes||Careless disposal results in seeds being spread||Yes||Yes||Parsons and Cuthbertson, 2001|
Pathway VectorsTop of page
Impact SummaryTop of page
|Economic/livelihood||Positive and negative|
Economic ImpactTop of page
C. cardunculus has had significant effect on pastoral industries. The dense populations formed by C. cardunculus displace more favourable pasture species. Grazing animals tend to avoid C. cardunculus due to its prickly form, thus reducing the pastures’ forage productivity (Weeds of Australia, 2016). Furthermore, if it exists in high densities, C. cardunculus tends to limit the movement of grazing animals (Kelly, 2000).
In addition, due to C. cardunculus ability to monopolise an area, an infestation within crops would reduce and compromise the quality of the crop yield (Weeds of Australia, 2016).
However there are a number of studies regarding the efficiency and profitability of growing C. cardunculus as a source of biomass for bioenergy in the Mediterranean region. Fernandez et al. (2006) report two products that can potentially be harvested; biomass as a solid fuel source and, seed oil for biodiesel production.
Environmental ImpactTop of page
C. cardunculus is reported to have negative environmental impacts as a highly invasive species in its non-native regions. It can form dense monocultures, displacing native vegetation and degrading native plant communities (Marushia and Holt, 2006). It can invade acres of land, out competing native flora, and creating thick monocultures as dense as 20,000 plants per acre (Kelly and Pepper, 1996). In California it is categorized as ‘Most Invasive Wildland Pest Plant’, category A-1, on the Californian Exotic Pest Plants of Greatest Ecological Concern. It can aggressively invade and disrupt natural habitats (CalEPPC, 1999) and has been described by Kelly and Pepper (1996) as a robust invasive plant that exhibits characteristics of the world’s worst weeds.
It is known to be of particular concern in disturbed and over-grazed pastures and rangelands, however it has also invaded natural habitats. Its ability to monopolise soil nutrients, water and light, and form dense populations, smother the native species. Consequently forming vast monocultures of C. cardunculus and destroying the natural habitat (Weeds of Australia, 2016). Dense invasions impede wildlife movement and displace native vegetation, causing the fragmentation of native habitats (Kelly and Pepper, 1996). One such example of C. cardunculus’ threat to native flora due to invasion and displacement is the endangered San Diego thornmint (Acanthomintha ilicifolia) (Kelly, 2000).
Conversely, C. cardunculus does provide an abundant source of pollen for bees, and birds have been known to feed on the seeds (Parsons and Cuthbertson, 2001).
Threatened SpeciesTop of page
Social ImpactTop of page
Similar to its cultivated relatives, C. solymus and C. altilis, C. cardunculus is also edible and grown as a food source. In addition, C. cardunculus has been regarded for its ornamental qualities. In Australia it was once sold due to its resemblance to the Scottish floral emblem.
Close contact with C. cardunculus has been known to cause dermatitis in some people (Parsons and Cuthbertson, 2001).
Risk and Impact FactorsTop of page Invasiveness
- Proved invasive outside its native range
- Has a broad native range
- Abundant in its native range
- Highly adaptable to different environments
- Is a habitat generalist
- Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
- Pioneering in disturbed areas
- Highly mobile locally
- Fast growing
- Has high reproductive potential
- Has propagules that can remain viable for more than one year
- Reproduces asexually
- Has high genetic variability
- Altered trophic level
- Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
- Modification of successional patterns
- Monoculture formation
- Negatively impacts agriculture
- Negatively impacts human health
- Reduced amenity values
- Reduced native biodiversity
- Threat to/ loss of endangered species
- Threat to/ loss of native species
- Causes allergic responses
- Competition - monopolizing resources
- Competition - shading
- Produces spines, thorns or burrs
- Highly likely to be transported internationally accidentally
- Difficult to identify/detect as a commodity contaminant
- Difficult/costly to control
UsesTop of page
C. cardunculus is a minor vegetable crop in much of the world except in Italy, Spain and the South of France where it is crop of regional importance and is used in traditional dishes (Lanteri and Portis, 2008).The plant is grown for its blanched leaf-stalks and leaf bases, which can be eaten as a cooked vegetable - boiled, braised or sautéed, and used in salads and soups; they have an artichoke-like flavour (Welbaum, 2015; Elzebroek and Wind, 2008). The flowers are also collected for ornamental use. In addition, in both Spain and Portugal, the pistil or ovary of the flower is used as a vegetable rennet in cheese making (iNaturalist, 2016). The seeds contains ~25% oil which is of good alimentary quality. Furthermore, the seed material left after the extraction can be used as a component of animal feed.
The plant is also a significant source of pharmaceuticals; the roots and rhizomes provide a source of inulin, a demonstrated enhancer of the human intestinal flora, and the leaves provide a source of antioxidants, such as luteolin and di-caffeoylquinic acid (Lanteri and Portis, 2008). Leaves are also considered to possess diuretic effects, improve gall bladder and liver function, and stimulate digestion. In biological assays, C. cardunculus extracts demonstrated antimicrobial activity comparable with some antibiotics (Christaki et al., 2012)
Where C. cardunculus is considered invasive, i.e. USA and Australia, it is not widely used, if at all. However its initial introduction to such places can be attributed for culinary and ornamental use (Kelly, 2000).
Furthermore, research into the cultivating of C. cardunculus as a source of biofuel is being undertaken in the Mediterranean region. Ierna and Mauromicale (2010) found that C. cardunculus is well suited to the Mediterranean climate as a low input perennially cultivated crop with high biomass and yield; as such it would be a competitive bioenergy crop and also used for paper pulp.
Uses ListTop of page
- Sociocultural value
Human food and beverage
- Cut flower
Similarities to Other Species/ConditionsTop of page
As previously alluded C. cardunculus is related and similar to its cultivated forms, C. scolymus and C. altilis. The cultivated forms are selected for characteristics that are favourable for harvest and human consumption. Hence they differ from the wild form by being generally larger, with larger stems and flowers, and less spiny (iNaturalist, 2016).
In Australia, C. cardunculus may also be confused with other thistles such as, Silybum marianum,Cirsium spp., Carduus spp. and Onopordum spp.. The first of the mentioned species can be distinguished from C. cardunculus by the broad based bracts on the flower head with a curled upper part ending in a long spine. The ‘winged’ stems of the other thistle species distinguish them from C. cardunculus, which has ‘wingless’ stems (Weeds of Australia, 2016).
Prevention and ControlTop of page
Control and eradication of C. cardunculus must be a task undertaken over a number of years. This is due to its ability to re-sprout from its perennial root and the build up of seeds that can survive up to 5 years (Kelly, 2000). Thus, ongoing detection and suppression is important in the control and eradication of C. cardunculus (Thomsen et al., 1986).
In a number of states in Australia movement or sale of C. cardunculus is restricted by legislation (Weeds of Australia, 2016).
Removing individual plants is only practical where individual plants are scattered or occur in small populations. It is important to ensure the entire taproot has been removed as C. cardunculus can regrow from the cut root. This may be difficult due to the size of the taproot and depth that it can grow (Kelly, 2000). Alternatively, removing flower heads, and subsequently seeds, before they mature and become viable can slow the movement and further spread of C. cardunculus. This action can dramatically reduce the seed bank over a number of years, in turn reducing the number of new seedlings and spread (Kelly and Pepper, 1996). After removal, the plants should be taken off site and disposed of appropriately to reduce the risk of regrowth.
Mechanical methods such as ploughing, are not recommended. Removing the extensive root system mechanically would be difficult and any pieces left behind can resprout through vegetative germination. Additionally, ploughing would leave the land disturbed and open to re-infestation to C. cardunculus or other native species (Kelly, 2000).
Biological control is not feasible as C. cardunculus has closely related cultivated species, Cynara scolymus and Cynara altilis. It is unlikely that any biological control would therefore be restricted to C. cardunculus (Thomsen et al., 1986).
However in the USA, the accidentally introduced artichoke fly attacks the flower head of C. cardunculus. It is not an approved biocontrol agent and does not significantly affect commercial C. scolymus crops. The fly’s affect on native thistles is still being studied, and the impact on C. cardunculus populations are not known (DiTomaso et al., 2013).
Several herbicides are effective in the killing of C. cardunculus when applied correctly. Two methods of application have been reported to be successful; spray application and cut stump application (Kelly, 2000). Using the spray application, Kelly and Pepper (1996) found 95-98% of plants were killed with a single application when applied as plants were bolting. This application method is suited to where there is a large C. cardunculus population.
The cut stump method provides a more accurate application and is best suited where the C. cardunculus population is sparse and is within close proximity to sensitive species, with the herbicide brushed directly onto the exposed cut stump (Kelly, 2000). Kelly and Pepper (1996) reported that this method was effective at any stage of growth with a 98-99% successful kill rate.
Once C. cardunculus has been eradicated, sites are readily recolonized by displaced vegetation (Kelly, 2000).
ReferencesTop of page
Archontoulis SV; Struik PC; Vos J; Danalatos NG, 2010. Phenological growth stages of Cynara cardunculus: codification and description according to the BBCH scale. Annals of Applied Biology, 156(2):253-270. http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/loi/aab
Australian Government, 2016. Weeds in Australia. Canberra, Australia: Australian Government. http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/invasive/weeds/index.html
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ContributorsTop of page
02/03/16 Original text by:
Diana Quiroz, Naturalis Biodiversity Center, Netherlands
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