Artichoke, (Cynara cardunculus, variety scolymus), also called globe artichoke or French artichoke, large thistlelike perennial plant of the aster family (Asteraceae) grown for its edible flower buds. … The artichoke’s flavor is delicate and nutlike, and the smaller heads, or buds, are usually the most tender.
The bud contains the heart, the delightful, meaty core of the artichoke, and is topped by a fuzzy center (or choke) which is surrounded by rows of petals that protect the artichoke heart. With their tiny thorns, the artichoke’s petals reveal their thistle heritage. The thorns aren’t a problem if handled carefully, and they soften in cooking.