Artichoke strains are very vigorous and large bulbed. Plants are shorter than hardneck varieties with a spreading growth habit. The leaves are broader than any other variety. While Artichokes normally do not produce a seed head, they may produce large bulbils that protrude from the lower third of the stem. When stressed, Artichokes can produce hard necks and seed heads. Cloves planted from these bulbs will usually revert to soft necks the following season.
Artichokes are named for their configuration of several overlapping layers of cloves, reminiscent of the true Artichoke. Many Artichoke strains have 3 to 5 clove layers containing 12 to 20 total cloves. Outer cloves are fat and round but irregular in shape, often with three flat sides and a paper tail at the tip. Inner cloves vary in shape. Bulb wrappers are coarse and thick, often with light purple blotches.
Some Artichoke strains produce large round, symmetrical bulbs, others have a knobby, asymmetrical appearance. Clove skins adhere fairly tightly, one reason for their long storage life.
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