artichoke, name for two different plants of the family Asteraceae (aster family), both having edible parts. The French, or globe, artichoke ( Cynara scolymus ) is a thistlelike plant of which the globular flower heads are used in the immature state as a salad or vegetable; only the lower part of the fleshy bracts ("leaves") and the center ("heart") are eaten. The cultivation of this S European plant is now a considerable industry in California. A large part of the yearly crop is canned for export to South America. The edible blanched leaves and leafstalks are called chard. The other artichoke plant is the Jerusalem artichoke. Artichokes are classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Asterales, family Asteraceae.