Sunchokes are blooming! Look for these smaller-flowered sunflowers in ditches or field edges or even gardens. These are beautiful native plants with plentiful edible tubers.

Partridge, Pine, and Peavey

Jerusalem Artichoke/Sunchoke, Helianthus tuberosus

Family: Asteraceae, the Aster Family

Description: Native perennial herb 1-3m tall. Very sunflower-like in appearance (same family). Leaves alternate above, opposite below, stems hairy, tuberous rhizomes

Abundance: Uncommon on Mt. Desert Island, but weedy once established.

Habitat: Old fields, sometimes planted in gardens

Plant Parts Used: Tubers

Food: Tubers like potatoes

Medicine: Diabetes

This native plant is often forgotten despite its similarity to the potato and how easy it is to grow. The tuber can be eaten cooked or raw. The raw tuber tastes like a water chestnut and the cooked tuber is reminiscent of a potato, but not as good mashed. Most Native Americans in the sunchoke’s range ate this tuber regularly, but it has largely been replaced with the potato, native to South America. Jerusalem artichoke is an easy plant to harvest, grow, and incorporate into our…

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