A Thistle by Any Other Name is. . . Well. . . an Artichoke
The artichoke is actually a thistle. It grows on a sturdy stem amid deeply cut, silver-green leaves that arch gracefully to give the plant a fountain-like appearance. They open into sumptuous, purple thistle flowers that are handsome in fresh or dried arrangements.
Artichokes need mild winters and summers. They thrive in coastal gardens, particularly in central California ― the epicenter of Western artichoke culture ― where they grow into leafy mounds 5 feet tall. (In hot interior climates, they may grow only half that tall.)
They’re propagated in winter or spring from root divisions; these are sold bare-root or, more often, potted up.