Helianthus tuberosus (Fr: topinambour | En: Jerusalem artichoke)
Helianthus tuberosus is a perennial sunflower that has been a staple crop for many First Nations, and especially among the Haudenosaunee, where an the name “Iroquois potato” comes from. Its edible tubers are in many ways a miracle food as they contain little starch, instead containing “inulin” a dietary fiber. However be forewarned that a digestive system not used to this fibre can suffer terrible gas and cramps, hence the tubers are called “fartichokes” by some. While this Helianthus tuberosus tubers are regularly cultivated and sold at grocery stores, these tubers originate from two wild-type specimen that feature different coloured and shaped tubers that are typical for plants growing along river shores.
The flowers of Helianthus tuberosus are some of the absolute last to flower and I’ve seen these flowering long after most other flowers have stopped, after the first frosts until the ground freezes, a few times I’ve seen them flowering during the first major snow storms.
This plant spreads vigorously through roots but can be easily controlled by mowing. However, as an aggressive plant make sure it has its own dedicated spot or has other aggressive plants to compete with.
Height: 1.5 meters to 5 meters
Bloom: August to November
Sun: full sun