Helianthus tuberosus – asteraceae family – aster, daisy, sunflower (which makes a lot of sense since the flowers vaguely resemble). Also called sunchoke, sunroot, etc.
The name is one huge misnomer. No connection to Jerusalem and not an artichoke but distantly related to artichokes (in the daisy family). Italian settlers
in the USA called the plant girasole, the Italian word for sunflower because of its resemblance to the garden sunflower (note: both the sunflower and the sunchoke are part of the same genus: Helianthus). Over time, the name girasole may have been changed to Jerusalem.
The artichoke part of the Jerusalem artichoke’s name comes from the taste of its edible tuber. Samuel de Champlain, the French explorer, sent
the first samples of the plant to France, noting its taste was similar to an artichoke.
Native to North America. All the way west to North Dakota. However the true native range may never be known since the Native Americans had domesticated it and spread it quite well. Its thought to originate in the mississipi/ohio valley region due to the soil type.
Gets very tall up to 8 feet or so. The tubers are very light beige on the outside and very pale on the inside and when I did the research it said they look like ginger which makes a ton of sense to me!
The tubers spread quite prolifically. They are eaten both raw, sliced thin (salads) or steamed or boiled and mashed like a potato. They contain inulin instead of starch. This is not a readily accessible form of sugar for humans. Thus with some people it may cause a bit of gas! Quite nutritional with potential for ethanol production. Can produce double the amount of sugar as the same quantity of corn or sugar beets.
It is hardy to zone 4 and is not frost tender. It is in flower in October, and the seeds ripen in November. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, flies.
The plant prefers light (sandy) soils, requires well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade.It requires dry or moist soil. The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure.
Seed – sow in spring in a cold frame. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Division in spring or autumn. Harvest the tubers in late autumn or the winter and either replant the tubers immediately or store them in a cool but frost-free place and plant them out in early spring. Jerusalem artichoke is propagated by tubers, which should be planted as early as possible in the spring when the soil can be satisfactorily worked.