Jerusalem artichoke, tuberous-rooted perennial (Helianthus tuberosus) of the family Asteraceae (aster family), native to North America, where it was early cultivated by the indigenous inhabitants. In this particular case the name Jerusalem is a corruption of girasole [turning toward the sun], the Italian name for sunflower, of which this plant is one species. The edible tubers are somewhat potatolike, but the carbohydrate present is inulin rather than starch, and the flavor resembles that of artichokes. Jerusalem artichoke is more favored as a food plant in Europe (where it was introduced in 1616) and China than in North America, where it is most frequently grown as stock feed. The inulin is valuable also as a source of fructose for diabetics. Jerusalem artichokes are classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Asterales, family Asteraceae.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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