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    Vascular Plants of California
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Cynara cardunculus

Higher Taxonomy
Family: Asteraceae (Compositae)View DescriptionDichotomous Key

Habit: Annual to tree. Leaf: basal and/or cauline, alternate, opposite, rarely whorled, simple to 2+ × compound. Inflorescence: 1° inflorescence a head, resembling a flower, of several types (see below), 1--many in generally +- cyme-like cluster; each head generally with +- calyx-like involucre of 1--many series of phyllaries (involucre bracts); receptacle of head flat to conic or columnar, paleate (bearing paleae = receptacle bracts) or epaleate; flowers 1--many per head. Flower: bisexual, unisexual, or sterile, +- small, of several types (see below); calyx 0 or modified into +- persistent pappus of bristles, scales, and/or awns; corolla radial or bilateral (0), lobes generally (0)3--5; stamens 4--5, filaments generally free, generally fused to corolla at tube/throat junction, anthers generally fused into cylinder around style, anther base generally rounded or cordate (deeply sagittate or with tail-like appendages), tip (= flattened appendage) generally projecting beyond pollen sac; pistil 1, 2-carpeled, ovary inferior, 1-chambered, 1-seeded, placenta basal, style 1, tip generally +- 2-branched (except in some staminate disk flowers), branch tips truncate or generally bearing +- brush-like appendages; stigmas 2, generally on adaxial faces of style branches. Fruit: achene (also called a cypsela) (drupe in Chrysanthemoides), cylindric to ovoid, sometimes compressed, generally deciduous with pappus attached.
Genera In Family: +- 1500 genera, 23000 species: worldwide, many habitats. Note: Flower and head types differ in form and sexual condition. A disk flower has a generally radial corolla, with a cylindric tube, expanded throat, and generally 5 lobes. Disk flowers are generally bisexual and fertile but occasionally staminate with reduced ovaries. Discoid heads comprise only disk flowers. A radiant head is a variant of a discoid head, with peripheral disk flower corollas expanded, often bilateral. A ray flower corolla is bilateral, generally with a slender tube and flattened petal-like ray (single lip composed of generally 3 lobes). Ray flowers are generally pistillate or sterile (occasionally lacking styles). Radiate heads have peripheral ray flowers and central disk flowers. Disciform heads superficially resemble discoid heads, with pistillate or sterile flowers that lack rays, together with or separate from disk flowers. A ligulate flower is bisexual, with a bilateral, generally ephemeral corolla and 5-lobed ligule. Liguliflorous heads comprise only ligulate flowers. See glossary p. 31 for illustrations of family characteristics. Echinops sphaerocephalus L., Gaillardia aristata Pursh, Gaillardia pulchella Foug., Hymenothrix loomisii S.F. Blake, Tagetes erecta L., Thelesperma megapotamicum (Spreng.) Kuntze are waifs. Melampodium perfoliatum Kunth, historic urban waif. Ageratum conyzoides L., Guizotia abyssinica (L. f.) Cass., Santolina chamaecyparisus L., orth. var. are rare or uncommon escapes from cultivation. Dyssodia papposa, Ismelia carinata (Schousb.) Sch. Bip. [Chrysanthemum carinatum Schousb.], Mantisalca salmantica (L.) Briq. & Cavill. are historical or extirpated waifs in California. Inula helenium L. not documented in California. Taxa of Aster in TJM (1993) treated here in Almutaster, Eucephalus, Eurybia, Ionactis, Oreostemma, Sericocarpus, Symphyotrichum; Chamomilla in Matricaria; Bahia in Hymenothrix; Cnicus in Centaurea; Conyza in Erigeron and Laennecia; Dugaldia in Hymenoxys; Erechtites in Senecio; Hymenoclea in Ambrosia; Lembertia in Monolopia; Osteospermum ecklonis in Dimorphotheca; Picris echioides in Helminthotheca; Prionopsis in Grindelia; Raillardiopsis in Anisocarpus and Carlquistia; Schkuhria multiflora in Picradeniopsis; Trimorpha in Erigeron; Venidium in Arctotis; Whitneya in Arnica. Amauriopsis in TJM2 (2012) treated here in Hymenothrix; Arida in Leucosyris; Bahia in Picradeniopsis.
Unabridged Note: Largest family of vascular plants in California and of eudicots globally.
eFlora Treatment Author: David J. Keil, except as noted
Scientific Editor: David J. Keil, Bruce G. Baldwin.
Genus: CynaraView Description 

Habit: Perennial herb 5--25 dm, +- tomentose in California. Stem: generally erect, leafy, branched, stout. Leaf: basal and cauline, alternate, 1--3-pinnately lobed, divided, or compound, +- spiny. Inflorescence: heads discoid, large, 1--few in cyme-like clusters; involucre ovoid or hemispheric; phyllaries graduated in 5--8+ series, generally ovate, leathery, entire, glabrous, tips generally triangular; receptacle flat, fleshy, epaleate, bristly. Flower: many; corolla white to blue-purple, tube very slender, throat widened abruptly, lobes linear; anther base long-sagittate, tip oblong; style tip with terminal segment long, cylindric, minutely papillate, tip barely notched. Fruit: cylindric to obconic, +- 4-angled or +- compressed, glabrous, attached at base; pappus of many stiff bristles in several series, white or +- brown, plumose below, fused and falling together.
Species In Genus: 8 species: Mediterranean, Canary Islands, western Asia. Etymology: (Greek: artichoke)
eFlora Treatment Author: David J. Keil & Charles E. Turner
Reference: Keil 2006 FNANM 19:89--90
Unabridged Reference: Wiklund 1992 Bot J Linn Soc. 109:75--123

Cynara cardunculus L.
Habit: Plants 5--25 dm. Leaf: 3--20 dm, abaxially densely tomentose, gray or white, adaxially thinly cobwebby, green; lobes oblong to lanceolate, entire or coarsely toothed; spine tips of teeth and lobes small and weak to stiff and needle-like. Inflorescence: involucre 3--15 cm, 4--15 cm diam (not including phyllary tips); phyllaries weakly to strongly spine-tipped. Flower: corolla 3--5 cm, generally blue or purple; styles long exserted. Fruit: 4--8 mm; pappus 2--4 cm. Chromosomes: 2n=34.

Jepson eFlora Author: David J. Keil & Charles E. Turner
Reference: Keil 2006 FNANM 19:89--90
Unabridged Reference: Wiklund 1992 Bot J Linn Soc. 109:75--123
Jepson Online Interchange
Key to Cynara cardunculus
Weed listed by Cal-IPC

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Next taxon: Cynara cardunculus subsp. cardunculus

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Citation for this treatment: David J. Keil & Charles E. Turner 2012, Cynara cardunculus, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on December 11, 2018.

Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2018, Jepson eFlora,, accessed on December 11, 2018.

Cynara cardunculus
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© 2003 Michael Charters
Cynara cardunculus subsp. cardunculus
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© 2009 Neal Kramer
Cynara cardunculus subsp. flavescens
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© 2016 Neal Kramer
Cynara cardunculus
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© 2003 Michael Charters
Cynara cardunculus subsp. flavescens
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© 2016 Neal Kramer
Cynara cardunculus
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© 2002 Tony Morosco

More photos of Cynara cardunculus in CalPhotos

Geographic subdivisions for Cynara cardunculus:
Markers link to CCH specimen records. Yellow markers indicate records that may provide evidence for eFlora range revision or may have georeferencing or identification issues. Purple markers indicate specimens collected from a garden, greenhouse, or other non-wild location.
map of distribution 1
(Note: any qualifiers in the taxon distribution description, such as 'northern', 'southern', 'adjacent' etc., are not reflected in the map above, and in some cases indication of a taxon in a subdivision is based on a single collection or author-verified occurence).

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Data provided by the participants of the Consortium of California Herbaria.
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CCH collections by month

Duplicates counted once; synonyms included.
Species do not include records of infraspecific taxa, if there are more than 1 infraspecific taxon in CA.
Blue line denotes eFlora flowering time.