What is a Globe Artichoke?The botanical name for the globe artichoke is Cynara Scolymus belonging to the Asteraceae family. The artichoke can be a perennial or annual and belongs to the thistle family. The edible vegetable is actually the plant's flower bud. If allowed to flower, the large blossoms measure up to around seven inches in diameter and are an attractive violet purple colour. Florists have long recognised that the flowers make attractive floral displays. The beautiful silvery grey fern-like plants produce various combinations of green and purple coloured artichokes.The buds consist of many involucral bracts and once cooked, the lower fleshy parts of the bracts are edible. Closer to the centre the leaves are more tender and have a greater portion of edible flesh. The centre has a hairy ‘choke’, which will be inedible if the artichoke is too mature. The hairy choke sits on top of a tasty, tender heart. Artichoke stems can be peeled and cooked together with the rest of the globe artichoke. The globe artichoke has a unique, slightly sweet flavour due to a plant chemical called cynarin, which has the ability to reduce cholesterol. Cynarin inhibits the taste receptors; making water and food consumed after the globe artichoke seem sweet and more desirable. Artichokes have been known for their medicinal and health benefits since ancient times. They are low in calories, and provide a rich source of dietary fibre. Globe Artichokes are rich in vitamins and are an excellent source of cholesterol reduction. They also contain good amounts of antioxidants which protect the body from harmful free-radical agents.