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The globe artichoke (Cynara cardunculus var. scolymus), also known by the names French artichoke and green artichoke in the U.S., is a variety of a species of thistle cultivated as a food.
The edible portion of the plant consists of the flower buds before the flowers come into bloom. The budding artichoke flower-head is a cluster of many budding small flowers (an inflorescence), together with many bracts, on an edible base. Once the buds bloom, the structure changes to a coarse, barely edible form. Another variety of the same species is the cardoon, a perennial plant native to the Mediterranean region. Both wild forms and cultivated varieties (cultivars) exist.