Artichokes The ideal climate for them is cool during winter but in frost free areas. Most artichokes grown in Australia are found around Port Phillip Bay on the outskirts of Melbourne. The artichoke is a perennial in the thistle group of the sunflower family and is believed to be a native of the Mediterranean and the Canary Islands. In full growth, the plant spreads to cover an area about 75 cm in diameter and reaches a height of 1 to 1.8 metres. The "vegetable" that we eat is actually the plant's flower bud. If allowed to flower, the blossoms measure up to seven inches in diameter and are a beautiful violet-blue colour. They are available twelve months a year with the peak season in the spring and autumn. There are more than 140 artichoke varieties but less than 40 are grown commercially. Today most artichokes grown worldwide are cultivated in Europe.  Artichokes are a good source of folate, dietary fibre and vitamins C and K. Artichokes are also packed with antioxidants; they're number 7 on the list of top 20 antioxidant-rich foods.

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