Artichoke - Cynaras may be a little prickly but most are actually quite pretty gentle giants. Their flowers are very pretty, resembling large powder-puffs sometimes with a sweet perfume in lovely shades of blue, mauve, pink to nearly red and wonderful vivid shades of purple. These are highly prized by Floral Artists and are occasionally found sold in Florist shops and markets. The flowers, when picked just as they show colour, dry beautifully, too.
There are approximately 12 Cynara species of these attractive Thistles. Some are quite spiny like Cynara cornigera. This species has been used since very ancient times to treat problems with the liver and digestion. And it is highly treasured as an aphrodisiac. Buds, flowers and leaves and sometimes roots are all eaten raw after peeling off the prickles and spines. Sometimes they are boiled, steamed or steeped as an herbal tea. Many times they are stored in brine which removed their bitter herbal taste.
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