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Chinese artichoke    

Stachys affinis

Chinese artichoke is part of the Stachys genus. Its scientific name is Stachys affinis. The botanical name epithet for Chinese artichoke (affinis) means 'related'.

S. affinis is an herbaceous perennial plant of the family Lamiaceae. Although its edible tuber can be grown as a root vegetable, it is a rare sight in the garden. The reason that it is so unpopular is the nature of the tubers — small, convoluted and indented, so that it is the cook rather than the gardener or the family who finds this vegetable frustrating. The thin skin is of whitish-brown or ivory-white. The flesh underneath, under proper cultivation, is white and tender. It is in season generally commencing with October(?).1

Perennial growing to 0.45m. It is hardy to zone 5 and is frost tender. It is in leaf from May to November, in flower from July to August. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects. We rate it 4 out of 5 for usefulness.2

The flavor of the tubers is delicate and delicious — they can be treated as jerusalem artichokes in cooking. It is used as a vegetable, in salad compositions, but more so as a garnish.1

In China, the Chinese artichoke is used primarily for pickling. Its tuber is a part of Osechi cooked for celebrating Japanese New Year. Dyed red by leaves of red shiso after pickled, it is called Chorogi. In French cuisine, its cooked tuber is often served alongside dishes named japonaise or Japanese-styled.1

Blooms appear in these approximate colours:   Dark magenta. Leaves appear approximately as a   Bright green and   India green colour. It is a flowering edible vegetable and is treated mainly as a perennial, so it grows best over a period of time (3 years and greater). Chinese artichoke is known for its spreading growing habit. If you would like to attract bees to your garden, consider growing this plant.

China is believed to be where Chinese artichoke originates from.

Chinese artichoke is normally fairly low maintenance and is normally quite easy to grow, as long as a level of basic care is provided throughout the year. Being aware of the basic soil, sun and water preferences will result in a happier and healthier plant.

This plant info is provided by the myfolia gardener's wiki. All details about Chinese artichoke have been kindly provided by our members.

How to grow Chinese artichoke

  • Full Sun

    +
  • Medium

The plant is easy to grow, requiring neither staking nor earthing-up.1

The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and requires well-drained soil. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It requires moist soil. 2

Prefers a well-drained soil in a sunny position. Thrives in an ordinary garden soil, preferring one that is not too heavy. It grows best in a soil that has been well fed and does not dry out in the growing season. Plants seem to withstand even water-logged conditions in the winter.2

The Chinese artichoke is occasionally cultivated for its edible tubers, they are planted out in March and harvested from October onwards(?). Although top growth is killed back by frost, the tubers are very hardy and can be left in the ground over winter to be harvested as required. It is virtually impossible to find all the tubers, there are always some left behind that will grow the following season. Plants are very tolerant of high summer temperatures.2

One should avoid planting Chinese artichoke near other plants in general, as Chinese artichoke is a vigorous grower, and may smother its neighbors given the chance. Plus, if one plants Chinese artichoke near perennials, one may risk uprooting them when one tries to harvest the tubers.

Position in a full sun location and remember to water moderately. Use Zone 5 - Zone 10 as your guideline for the appropriate climate for this plant. Keep in mind when planting that Chinese artichoke is thought of as tender, so it is imperative to wait until temperatures are mild before planting out of doors.

Growing Chinese artichoke from seed

Seed – sow spring in a cold frame. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle. If sufficient growth has been made, it is possible to plant them out during the summer, otherwise grow them on in pots for their first summer, leaving the tubers in the pots to overwinter in a cold frame and then plant out in late spring when in active growth. Seed is rarely if ever produced on plants growing in Britain.2

Division. The tubers can be harvest and replanted at any time whilst they are dormant. They do start into growth fairly early in the year so it is better to have moved them by the end of March(?).2

The tubers begin to sprout at temperatures above about 5°c. Plants take 5 – 7 months to develop their tubers.2

Transplanting Chinese artichoke

Ideally, the plant should be transplanted while in its dormant, tuber stage during Fall or Winter. The tubers should not be planted too deeply, at most, 1 to 1 and one-half inches deep.
The plants can be transplanted while during growth stages, but, transplanted plants tend not to thrive after transplanting for the rest of the growing season, unless transplanted during early Spring.

Harvesting Chinese artichoke

The tubers are ready for harvesting from early to middle autumn, usually by October, or in warmer climates, when the foliage has died. The tubers should not be dug up until one is ready to prepare them for eating immediately, or are preparing to transplant/replant them. The tubers are fairly delicate and will dry out with a few days to a week upon being dug up.

Companion plants for Chinese artichoke

These plants have been known to grow well alongside Chinese artichoke so consider planting:

Repellent plants for Chinese artichoke

These plants will not grow well with Chinese artichoke so avoid planting these within close proximity:

Common Chinese artichoke problems

These problems, diseases and pests are known to affect Chinese artichoke plants:

No diseases

Lettuce root aphid, Pemphigus bursarius

  • Cutworms

    Cutworms are dull brown caterpillars that are normally they are found on or j...

  • Slugs

    A snail without a shell. A mollusc with an elongated, soft body with a shiny...

Chinese artichoke Etymology

The genus epithet, Stachys, means “an ear of corn/grain,” in reference to how the floral spike resembles an ear of corn or a head of wheat. The species epithet is from the Latin affinis meaning “related,” in reference to how its growth habit is very similar to the related Lamb’s Ear, S. officinalis

Chinese artichoke Folklore & Trivia

In Chinese medicine, the tubers are dried and powdered to use as a pain reliever, or pickled in rice wine or sorghum wine to help treat the common cold and influenza.
In Chinese and Japanese cuisine, the tubers are pickled in vinegar and red perilla leaves as a part of traditional New Year’s cuisine.

Other names for Chinese artichoke

Crosne, Knotroot, Artichoke betony

Stachys sieboldii

Chinese artichoke care instructions

How long does Chinese artichoke take to grow?

These estimates for how long Chinese artichoke takes to sprout, grow and harvest are from real observations from real gardeners, right around the world. Start logging and journaling your observations to participate!

Footnotes

Popular varieties of Chinese artichoke

View the complete variety list for Chinese artichoke »

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