Jerusalem Artichoke Weeds: How To Control Jerusalem Artichokes
By Mary H. Dyer, Credentialed Garden Writer
Jerusalem artichoke looks much like a sunflower, but unlike the well-behaved summer-blooming annual, Jerusalem artichoke is an aggressive weed that creates big problems along roadsides and in pastures, fields, and home gardens. Click here for more info.
Helianthus tuberosus is a herbaceous perennial plant growing to 1.5–3 m (4 ft 11 in–9 ft 10 in) tall with opposite leaves on the upper part of the stem but alternate below.  The leaves have a rough, hairy texture. Larger leaves on the lower stem are broad ovoid-acute and can be up to 30 cm (12 in) long. Leaves higher on the stem are smaller and narrower. 
The flowers are yellow and produced in capitate flowerheads, which are 5–10 cm (2.0–3.9 in) in diameter, with 10–20 ray florets and 60 or more small disc florets. 
The tubers are often elongated and uneven, typically 7.5–10 cm (3.0–3.9 in) long and 3–5 cm (1.2–2.0 in) thick, and vaguely resembling a ginger root in appearance, with a crisp and crunchy texture when raw. They vary in colour from pale brown to white, red, or purple.  
Before the arrival of Europeans, Native Americans cultivated H. tuberosus as a food source. The tubers persist for years after being planted, so that the species expanded its range from central North America to the eastern and western regions. [ citation needed ] Early European colonists learned of this, and sent tubers back to Europe, where it became a popular crop and naturalized there. It later gradually fell into obscurity in North America, but attempts to market it commercially have been successful in the late 1900s and early 2000s.  
The tuber contains about 2% protein, no oil, and little starch. It is rich in the carbohydrate inulin (8 to 13%  ), which is a polymer of the monosaccharide fructose. Tubers stored for any length of time convert their inulin into its component fructose. Jerusalem artichokes have an underlying sweet taste because of the fructose, which is about one and a half times as sweet as sucrose. 
It has also been reported as a folk remedy for diabetes:  since inulin is not assimilated in the intestine, it doesn't cause a glycemic spike as potatoes would. Temperature variances have been shown to affect the amount of inulin the Jerusalem artichoke can produce. It makes less inulin in a colder region than when it is in a warmer region. 
Despite one of its names, the Jerusalem artichoke has no relationship to Jerusalem, and it is not a type of artichoke, though the two are distantly related as members of the daisy family. The origin of the "Jerusalem" part of the name is uncertain. Italian settlers in the United States called the plant girasole, the Italian word for sunflower, because of its familial relationship to the garden sunflower (both plants are members of the genus Helianthus). Over time, the name girasole (pronounced closer to [dʒiraˈsuːlə] in southern Italian dialects) may have been changed to Jerusalem.  In other words, English speakers would have corrupted "girasole artichoke" (meaning, "sunflower artichoke") to Jerusalem artichoke.  Another explanation for the name is that the Puritans, when they came to the New World, named the plant with regard to the "New Jerusalem" they believed they were creating in the wilderness.  Also, various other names have been applied to the plant, such as the French or Canada potato, topinambour, and lambchoke. Sunchoke, a name by which it is still known today, was invented in the 1960s by Frieda Caplan, a produce wholesaler who was trying to revive the plant's appeal. 
The artichoke part of the Jerusalem artichoke's name comes from the taste of its edible tuber. Samuel de Champlain, the French explorer, sent the first samples of the plant to France, noting its taste was similar to that of an artichoke.  
The name topinambur, in one account, dates from 1615, when a member of the Brazilian coastal tribe called the Tupinambá visited the Vatican at the same time that a sample of the tuber from Canada was on display there, presented as a critical food source that helped French Canadian settlers survive the winter. The New World connection resulted in the name topinambur being applied to the tuber, the word now used in French, German, Italian, Romanian, Russian, and Spanish.  
Jerusalem artichokes were first cultivated by the Native Americans, this extensive cultivation obscures the exact native range of the species.  The French explorer Samuel de Champlain discovered that the native people of Nauset Harbor in Massachusetts had cultivated roots that tasted like artichoke. The following year, Champlain returned to the same area to discover that the roots had a flavour similar to chard  and was responsible for bringing the plant back to France. Some time later, Petrus Hondius, a Dutch botanist, planted a shrivelled Jerusalem artichoke tuber in his garden at Terneuzen and was surprised to see the plant proliferate.  Jerusalem artichokes are so well suited for the European climate and soil that the plant multiplies quickly. By the mid-1600s, the Jerusalem artichoke had become a very common vegetable for human consumption in Europe and the Americas, and was also used for livestock feed in Europe and colonial America.  The French in particular were especially fond of the vegetable, which reached its peak popularity at the turn of the 19th century.  The Jerusalem artichoke was titled 'best soup vegetable' in the 2002 Nice Festival for the Heritage of the French Cuisine.
The French explorer and Acadia's first historian, Marc Lescarbot, described Jerusalem artichokes as being "as big as turnips or truffles", suitable for eating and taste "like chards, but more pleasant". In 1629, English herbalist and botanist, John Parkinson, wrote that the widely grown Jerusalem artichoke had become very common and cheap in London, so much so "that even the most vulgar begin to despise them". In contrast, when Jerusalem artichokes first arrived in England, the tubers were "dainties for the Queen". 
Lewis and Clark ate the tubers, prepared by an indigenous woman, in modern-day North Dakota. 
They have also been called the "Canadian truffle". 
Jerusalem Artichoke Roots
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- Botanical Name: Helianthus tuberosus
- Height: 6 - 9 feet.
- Spacing: 18 - 24 inches between plants, 3 -- 4 feet between rows.
- Depth: 4 - 5 inches.
- Spread: Will continue to spread year after year unless all tubers are removed from the ground.
- Light Required: Full Sun
- Pollinator: Self pollinating.
- Yield: Up to 5 bushels per 100 foot row.
- Color: Yellow
- Size: 2 Lb
- Blooms: Early to mid Fall.
- Days To Maturity: 120 Days
- Zone: 3-9
- Form: Perennial. Upright.
- Flower Form: Ray florets up to 4" across.
- Soil Requirements: Deeply worked, rich, well-drained soil.
- Growth Rate: Fast.
- Pruning: None necessary.
- Foliage: Oblong to lance shaped leaves that are course and hairy.
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