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Eastern Shore Food Lab

Helianthus tuberosus - Jerusalem Artichoke

Commonly grown and easy to establish, the Helianthus tuberosus provides a healthier alternative to high fructose corn syrup along with other uses.

Scientific Name: Helianthus tuberosus
Common Name: Jerusalem Artichoke, Sunchoke
Plant Family: Asteraceae, Compositae

Etymology: Helianthus is “sunflower”, and tuberosus means “to have tubers”

Edible Parts

Edible roots, or tubers, can be harvested and consumed, raw or cooked. The roots can be made into fructose that is safe for diabetics, as well as ground into coffee, used to make alcohol, or used as a sweetener. The tubers are sweeter in the winter.

Historic Uses

Reported to be a folk cure for diabetes, a tonic, aphrodisiac, as well as assisting in digestion issues. 


Originated in the central United States, and now grows to the Eastern United States as well as into Minnesota and Kansas.

How to Identify

Grow from 3-12 feet tall with long, multi-branching stems. The large leaves are rough, and blooms yellow flowers, which bloom in late summer. Leaves have coarse hairs facing the sun, and the underside is smooth and more delicate.

Additional Information

The plant has both male and female reproductive organs, and is aggressive in it’s spread, often taking over an area. This is why most farmers classify it as a weed and are hesitant to grow the plant.

Planting Considerations

  • USDA Hardiness Zone:4-8
  • Native Range: Middle to Eastern United States
  • Forest Garden Layer: Herbaceous
  • Permaculture functions: Food, beverage, medicine
  • Soil texture: Slightly alkaline soils, suitable for most soils except clay heavy soils
  • Height: 3 – 12 feet
  • Spread: large spread
  • Growth rate: quick growth rate
  • Sun: full sun
  • Bloom: yellow flowers
  • Attracts: rabbits, bees, insects
  • Tolerates: sandy soil, rocky soil, most pHs, cold, frost
  • Drawbacks: spreads rapidly and can take over a garden