Jerusalem Artichokes

Having read about the value of Jerusalem artichokes in permaculture books, I planted a few tubers from the grocery store. The next summer I had three stands of sunchokes with beaming yellow rays beloved by pollinators. Their stalks multiply each year and create a thick, tall screening that dies back in winter. Produces prolific edible tubers that taste excellent.


Common Name: Jerusalem artichoke, sunroot, sunchoke, earth apple
Scientific Name: Helianthus tuberosus
Family: Asteraceae


Honeybees adore Jerusalem artichokes at the Little House on Pine.

Honeybees adore Jerusalem artichokes at the Little House on Pine.

Uses

  • Edible tubers (in moderation; must be cooked thoroughly due to high inulin content)
  • Finely chopped tubers make good poultry fodder
  • Honeybee forage
  • Seasonal screen

Medicinal Properties

  • Dietary supplement for diabetics; inulin breaks down to fructose instead of glucose
  • Prebiotic fructooligosaccharide (FOS) acts as a substrate for beneficial gut bacteria

Forest Garden Designing

  • Plant Type: Herbaceous perennial, stalks up to 10′ tall
  • Plant Leaf Type: Deciduous
  • Layer Use: Shrub, herbaceous layers
  • Pollination: Pollinated by insects
  • Flowering: Late summer through fall
  • Leaf Shape: Lanceolate to ovate; toothless to serrated; up to 12″ long near base of plant

Planting Considerations

  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 2-8
  • Light: Prefers full sun
  • Shade: Tolerates partial shade, but growth is reduced
  • Moisture: Medium soil moisture preferred, can tolerate periods of drought
  • pH: most species prefer fairly neutral (about 7)

Propagation

  • Plant tubers in early spring, where they will go forever.

Maintenance

Tie tall stalks to a stake to prevent strong winds from blowing them down. Cut dead stalks after first freeze. Harvest tubers as desired throughout fall and winter. Compost green leaves before using as mulch, as they contain allelopathic compounds.

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