It was a beautiful day here yesterday. There was a show of botanical drawings that CD was eager to see, as she’s enjoy8ing taking a class and some of the work of her teacher was included. It’s a drive of about 35 minutes to the Auckland Botanical Gardens, which made for a very nice day out. After we’d enjoyed the several-dozen drawings on display, we strolled around a fair portion of the whole complex, taking in the exhibits of endangered native species and of edible plants. I’ll likely be bringing you a few more images from this excursion, but I’ll start with one whose leaves really caught my eye. It’s a variety of artichoke, Cynara cardunculus, from the southwestern Mediterranean region, in general, and Morocco in particular, and it goes by the common name of Cardoon. I’ve liked artichokes, especially dipped in a butter-lemon-garlic-mayonnaise sauce, for as long as I can remember, and I’ve even been to the artichoke capital of the world (Castroville, California), but I don’t think I’ve ever taken the time to appreciate how intricate and delightfully complex the plant’s leaves are, until now.
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I chuckled at the title, Gary, and enjoyed studying the strangely intricate leaf structures.
Title crafting is often, for me, on an equal level of fun with the content of the post. You’ve also had your share of memorable ones.
Guilty as charged. I do like to play with titles. Most of the time they are informative, but sometimes they are just fun.
Good pun, as Mike pointed out. The word cardoon ultimately goes back to the Latin carduus that designated a wild thistle.
And this’ll, hopefully, not be my last post about artichokes, now that (a) I know there are many varieties growing there (b) I want to study their structure in more detail, and (c) we have a car to help us to get there (in this respect, may the carduus more helpful service).
Your repurposed car-du-us reminds me of the car dunes we saw in New Zealand, which is to say the dunes we were able to visit there because we had a rental car:
That’s a beautiful stretch of dune, for sure. You’ve made farther north than I have; my apex was the stretch of Hwy 10 that goes from Kerikeri through Mangonui to Kaitaia. We would love to visit the Ninety-Mile Beach some day and Cape Reinga and I’m sure we eventually will.
I recognize all the names you mentioned because we passed through them all. Kerikeri we visited a bunch of times because we were staying with Eve’s niece not far away in Paihia. I do hope you’ll make it up to Te Paki and Cape Reinga.
I love the silvery foliage of cardoons, even grew a plant myself once – loved having it!
Cool! Did it produce edible fruit for you? What variety was it? I’d love to have some home-grown artichokes!
I mistakenly thought our plant was the cardoon, Cynara cardunculus, but looking back at the photos just now it was actually Cynara scolymus – the globe artichoke grown for the big flowers. I didn’t cook them, just grew the plant for its looks. We’ve enjoyed seeing cardoons in the herbaceous border at Dunedin Botanic Garden and I think my memory got a bit confused!
Add me to the list of your pun admiration club. I also enjoy artichokes although I’ve not experienced them with your butter sauce. Something to try for ourselves.
Whoa, my Pun Admiration Club–it’s pretty exclusive. So you’d like to be another PACman? Well, OK, I’ll bend the rules, and you may now consider yourself included, provided you’ll also enroll me in yours! Oh, and be sure to try the butter sauce. There are lots of recipes available online, but if you try mine, please be sure there’s plenty of garlic (fresh and mashed), fresh fine-ground pepper, real mayo, a twist of fresh lemon (lime is even better), and a little dijon mustard too. (Super-secret hint: add a few drops of smoked chipotle Tabasco). And when you try it, please let me know what you think.
Giving new meaning to PAC. I like ours better than the more commonly referred to.
Garlic and Chipotle? I am guessing this might be my reaction. That planthopper will be making an appearance on the blog but you get a special advanced preview. I might have to leave out the hot stuff if I want to share it with Mary Beth.
Nah, I said a few drops and meant it. The chipotle variety is quite a bit milder than the standard and it just adds a nice hint of zest without being at all intrusive in a Scovill sense. And I can’t imagine that a little bit of fresh garlic ever really negatively impacted anyone (unless it might be a tender formative youth with vampiric tendencies).
Nothing about the flame farting planthopper?
It doesn’t take much spice to make Mary Beth’s throat close up. The least little bit causes a great deal of gagging. Same for garlic. A co-worker once called to see if I wanted him to make ribs for our lunch the following day.I said sure. He said one drop or two of his hot sauce. I enthusiastically said two. He said nah, let’s go for one and see.It was borderline edible. Two drops would have been something like this…
I’m willing to try a lot of things and I do really enjoy my share of spicy adventures, but there are definitely limits. A friend once introduced me to Dave’s Insanity Sauce, which I suspect may have been your friend’s offering, and which burned itself indelibly in my memory. Tabasco is rated at 2,500-5,000 Scovill units, but Dave’s pushes it up to an unbelievable 180,000. Avoid this one at all cost.
I’ve pretty much left those insanity pepper sauces in my rear view mirror. Red Hot sauce and medium Tostitos salsa are my limit now.
Sorry, rather slow off the mark there–I just revisited your planthopper and realize that I did look at the linked photo but did not realize the full impact until just now. I admired the detail in the little critter, of course, but took the posterior-emanating streaks for some kind of filaments. However did you manage an image of the sparks like that? This all brings to mind another hot sauce that I encountered once, called (and I am not making this up) Flaming Anus. Probably best to steer well clear of that one, too.
Leaves are indeed fascinating…and no two are the same even on the same plant/tree. I guess that is what makes them special. :-)
And it takes a special eye to realize that they are indeed unique, like fingerprints.
Your mention of the genus Cynara couldn’t help but remind of the line “I have been faithful to thee, Cynara! in my fashion.” You can read the poem at
And here I thought you were going to bid me a Japanese farewell.
Nice play on words :) Lovely details and forms in these leaves.
Thanks, Pete. It’s fun to see the sparked interest that an occasional whimsical Word’sworth.
Beautiful! I think I remember seeing this used in gardens, way back when I lived in NY, and was an active gardener. Looking forward to more from the botanical garden! (I took a botanical illustration certificate course at NY Botanical Garden back in the 1990’s and really loved it – I bet CD’s experience was also very positive).
She has really been enjoying this class, three hours each week, in a local garden park called FernGlen. It’s great to see her having so much fun.