Helianthus tuberosus (Jerusalem Artichoke)
|Also known as:|
|Habitat:||part shade, sun; moist fields, thickets, edges of woods|
|Bloom season:||August - October|
|Plant height:||3 to 10 feet|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||GP: FACU MW: FACU NCNE: FACU|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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Leaves and stem:
Leaves are up to 10 inches long and to 5 inches wide, gradually tapering to a point at the tip and abruptly narrowed near the base, on stalks from ¾ to 3 inches long that are often winged. Leaf edges are serrated to nearly toothless, the lower leaf surface is hairy and the upper rough textured. Attachment is opposite but may be alternate near the top of the plant. The stem is green or reddish and covered with stiff hairs, giving it a rough feel.
The center disk forms a head of dry seed, each about ¼ inch long and without a tuft of hairs, but with 2 bristly scales at the tip.
Jerusalem Artichoke resembles several other tall, Minnesota native sunflowers but has the largest and proportionately broadest leaves of the lot. It spreads vegetatively via rhizomes and can create sizable populations. Prior to European settlement, its tubers were cultivated by Native Americans as an important source of carbohydrates and is still grown by food naturalists today. Its robust growth habit, however, was problematic in post-European agriculture and until recently it was listed as a noxious weed until modern herbicides removed it as an agricultural nuisance. In native habitats and in agricultural margins it is an important species for both foraging and nesting for pollinators, and its seeds are a rich food source for birds.
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Photos by K. Chayka taken at Long Lake Regional Park, Ramsey County. Other photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?