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Helianthus tuberosus - L.

Common Name Jerusalem Artichoke
Family Asteraceae or Compositae
USDA hardiness 4-8
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Rich and damp thickets[43].
Range Eastern N. America - Nova Scotia to Minnesota and Kansas. Occasionally naturalized in Britain.
Edibility Rating    (4 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (1 of 5)
Care (info)
Fully Hardy Well drained soil Moist Soil Full sun
Helianthus tuberosus Jerusalem Artichoke

Helianthus tuberosus Jerusalem Artichoke


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Helianthus tuberosus is a PERENNIAL growing to 2.4 m (7ft) by 0.6 m (2ft in) at a fast rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 4 and is not frost tender. It is in flower in October, and the seeds ripen in November. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Bees, flies.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil. The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Plant Habitats

Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade; Cultivated Beds;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Root
Edible Uses: Coffee  Sweetener

Tubers - raw or cooked[2, 46, 61, 95]. The tuber develops a pleasant sweetness during the winter, especially if subjected to frosts, and is then reasonably acceptable raw[K]. Otherwise it is generally best cooked, and can be used in all the ways that potatoes are used[K]. The tubers are rich in inulin[46], a starch which the body cannot digest, so Jerusalem artichokes provide a bulk of food without many calories[K]. Some people are not very tolerant of inulin, it tends to ferment in their guts and can cause quite severe wind[K]. The tubers are fairly large, up to 10cm long and 6cm in diameter[200]. The tubers bruise easily and lose moisture rapidly so are best left in the ground and harvested as required[200]. The inulin from the roots can be converted into fructose, a sweet substance that is safe for diabetics to use[46, 171]. The roasted tubers are a coffee substitute[183].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Aperient  Cholagogue  Diuretic  Stomachic  Tonic

Reported to be aperient, aphrodisiac, cholagogue, diuretic, spermatogenetic, stomachic, and tonic, Jerusalem artichoke is a folk remedy for diabetes and rheumatism[269].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses


The plants are a good source of biomass. The tubers are used in industry to make alcohol etc[141]. The alcohol fermented from the tubers is said to be of better quality than that from sugar beets[269]. A fast-growing plant, Jerusalem artichokes can be grown as a temporary summer screen[200]. Very temporary, it is July before they reach a reasonable height and by October they are dying down[K].

Special Uses

Carbon Farming  Dynamic accumulator  Food Forest

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Management: Standard  Staple Crop: Protein-oil

A very easily grown plant, it grows best in a loose circumneutral loam but succeeds in most soils and conditions in a sunny position[1, 16, 37, 38, 269]. Plants are more productive when grown in a rich soil[1, 37, 38]. Heavy soils produce the highest yields, but the tubers are easily damaged at harvest-time so lighter well-drained sandy loams are more suitable[200]. Dislikes shade[1]. Likes some lime in the soil[16]. Jerusalem artichoke is reported to tolerate an annual precipitation of 31 to 282cm, an average annual temperature of 6.3 to 26.6°C and a pH in the range of 4.5 to 8.2[269]. Jerusalem artichokes were cultivated as a food plant by the N. American Indians and they are today often grown in temperate areas for their edible tubers. There are some named varieties[4, 46, 183, 200]. The plant is a suitable crop in any soil and climate where corn (Zea mays) will grow. It survives in poor soil and in areas as cold as Alaska. It also tolerates hot to sub-zero temperatures[269]. The first frost kills the stems and leaves, but the tubers can withstand freezing for months[269]. The plants are particularly suited to dry regions and poor soils where they will out-yield potatoes[200]. Tuber production occurs in response to decreasing day-length in late summer[200]. Yields range from 1 - 2kg per square metre[200]. The tubers are very cold-tolerant and can be safely left in the ground in the winter to be harvested as required. They can be attacked by slugs, however, and in sites prone to slug damage it is probably best to harvest the tubers in late autumn and store them over the winter. It is almost impossible to find all the tubers at harvest time, any left in the soil will grow away vigorously in the spring. Plants do not flower in northern Europe. They are sensitive to day-length hours, requiring longer periods of light from seedling to maturation of plant, and shorter periods for tuber formation. They do not grow where day-lengths vary little[269]. The plant is good weed eradicator, it makes so dense a shade that few other plants can compete[269]. The young growth is extremely attractive to slugs, plants can be totally destroyed by them[K]. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer or rabbits[233]. Plants only produce flowers in Britain after a long hot summer[17] and seed is rarely formed[200]. Grows well with corn[20]. Plants can be invasive[1]. The plant is heat tolerant in zones 9 through 7. (Plant Hardiness Zones show how well plants withstand cold winter temperatures. Plant Heat Zones show when plants would start suffering from the heat. The Plant Heat Zone map is based on the number of "heat days" experienced in a given area where the temperature climbs to over 86 degrees F (30°C). At this temperature, many plants begin to suffer physiological damage. Heat Zones range from 1 (no heat days) to 12 (210 or more heat days). For example Heat Zone. 11-1 indicates that the plant is heat tolerant in zones 11 through 1.) For polyculture design as well as the above-ground architecture (form - tree, shrub etc. and size shown above) information on the habit and root pattern is also useful and given here if available. The plant growth habit is a runner spreading indefinitely by rhizomes or stolons [1-2]. The root pattern is tuberous with swollen potato-like roots [1-2].

Carbon Farming

  • Management: Standard  Plants grow to their standard height. Harvest fruit, seeds, or other products. Non-Destructive management systems.
  • Staple Crop: Protein-oil  (16+ percent protein, 16+ percent oil). Annuals include soybeans, peanuts, sunflower seeds. Perennials include seeds, beans, nuts, and fruits such as almond, Brazil nut, pistachio, walnut, hazel, and safou.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Plant Propagation

Seed - sow 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[200]. 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[269]. Late planting usually reduces tuber yields and size seriously. Whole tubers or pieces about 50 g (2 oz.) should be planted like potatoes and covered to a depth of 10 cm. Pieces larger than 50 g do not increase the yield, though those smaller will decrease it. Deeper planting may delay emergence, weaken the sprouts, and cause the tubers to develop deeper, making harvest more difficult[269]. Basal cuttings in spring. Harvest the shoots when they are about 10 - 15cm long with plenty of underground stem. Pot them up into individual pots and keep them in light shade in a cold frame or greenhouse until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the summer.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here


Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
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Helianthus cusickiiCusick's sunflowerPerennial0.6 7-10 FLMHNDM310
Helianthus decapetalusThinleaf sunflowerPerennial1.2 2-8 MLMHSNM002
Helianthus doronicoides Perennial1.8 4-8  LMHNM20 
Helianthus giganteusGiant SunflowerPerennial3.6 4-8 FLMHNM300
Helianthus hybridsPerennial SunflowerPerennial3.6 4-11 FLMHNDM422
Helianthus laetiflorusShowy Sunflower, Cheerful sunflowerPerennial2.0 4-8  LMHNM20 
Helianthus lenticularisWild SunflowerAnnual3.0 -  LMHNM30 
Helianthus maximilianiiMaximillian Sunflower, Maximillian DaisyPerennial2.4 5-10 MLMHNM300
Helianthus pauciflorusStiff Sunflower, Prairie SunflowerPerennial1.5 3-7 FLMHNDM401
Helianthus petiolarisPrairie SunflowerAnnual3.0 4-8  LMHNDM210
Helianthus strumosusPaleleaf Woodland SunflowerPerennial2.0 4-8  LMHNM21 

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Botanical References


Links / References

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Readers comment

Merete S   Sat Oct 2 14:03:06 2004

"Plants do not flower in northern Europe."

Can't be true, I'm in Oslo, Norway, and mine bear such amounts of flowers that I sometimes cut them and take them indoors.

   Sun Jul 11 00:26:22 2004

Helianthus tuberosus, native to Canada, and known to us here as the sunroot, is hardier in much colder overwinter temperatures than the 'zone 4' rating suggests. I have personally grown it where the temperature falls to -40, and harvested a good crop.

In its native Canadian habitat, it flowers only rarely, and I have yet to see any seed form. We propagate it by replanting tubers. I would be most grateful to be in touch with anyone who has harvested viable seed.

Terry J. Klokeid, Ph.D. 126 Amblewood Drive Fulford Harbour, SaltSpring Island British Columbia V8K 1X2 voi message/fax 250.653.4099 email [email protected]

Amblewood Organic Farm Specializing in vegetable and herb seed for organic cultivation and adverse growing conditions

Steve Dupey   Thu Dec 1 2005

Love the flavor of sunchokes but eating a large helping of the cooked root causes near death from prolonged farting episodes. I tried converting the inulin to sugars buy slow low temp baking over two days in a casarole dish in my oven with something of the Indian camas cooking method in mind (undrground oven for three days... except that mine was a regular oven). Result was a dark brown extremely sweet but rather resony tasting product. This resony quality rendered it unattractive to eat, but substantial sugar conversion was apparent. Juice from the strained mashed product boiled down to a blackstrap molasses of sorts... but was still too resony for my tastes. Perhap one should drink their sunchokes as a distilled product to drown their regrets over the indigestibility of Inulin in such an easy to grow high- yielding rootcrop.

ANDY LAPPAGE   Sun Jun 4 2006

trying to find somewere that sell tubers to plant in uk

   Sun Jul 2 2006

For many years I have been growing H.tuberosus in central Québec, Zone 2 anf it is producing flowers in September before fall frost. It is very usefull for making wind shelter hedges around the garden or house. Cattle taste the foliage once a while but would like to see the result if silage was produce from it just like we do with corn. Marcel Ouellet

ribadiere   Fri Dec 21 2007

It seems HELIANTUS TUBEROSUS can reach a big biomass production,from roots to the upper part of the plant. In FRANCE,after 1945,several distillery factories were built and were successfull for some years,before oil stopped any development. In North America especially,several programs to produce ethanol with this plant. We should like to develop a collaboration to make the good seeds choice

Peter Curnow-Ford   Tue Aug 22 2006

We planted a single tuber, that had 5 shoots on it while it lingered in our vegetable basket. We now have 5 plants and they only need watering. Looking forward to Nov when we can start harvesting.

   Wed Feb 14 2007

Lyle - Feb. 13 2007 Grew them in SW Missouri last year - very, very easy to grow. I tried eating samples of them several times before the first frost & they were just ok. Then after Christmas I made a large stir fry out of them & they were absolutely delicious. I did have some gas, but not as bad as others have reported.

Bullie Botma   Tue Jan 30 2007

Looking for Jerusalem Artichoke cultivar "Columbia" tubers for South Africa

Helena McGinty   Sun Dec 24 2006

HELENA MCGINTY 24 DECEMBER 2006 Blackpool Lancs England I have some tubers if anyone wants some. I have no idea what variety they are they are just what we grew for years at my father's. I will revisit this web site weekly to see if anyone want some.

John Kimberley   Sun Apr 22 2007

ANDY LAPPAGE Sun Jun 4 2006 trying to find somewere that sell tubers to plant in uk I've just been given some after finding them advertised on http://groups.yahoo.com/group/WokinghamFreecycle/message/9823 I know it's nearly a year late but info might be useful.

   Wed May 30 2007

Where can one get a start of helianthus tuberosus? I live in Texas.

Frank Cangelosi   Sat Jul 7 2007

I live in tasmania, Helianthus tuberosus thrives here, to the point it can become a pest.

Flowerpot Organics Certified Organics

Mike   Sun Jul 22 2007

I grow organic Helianthus tuberosus in the UK and sell the tubers to whomever wants them. I harvest to order during eraly spring and summer so that growers have them when they show be sown. To discuss further or order mail me at [email protected]

Mick Swinburn   Sat Nov 3 2007

This year I planted a dozen 'Fuseau' tubers which seem to have done well. They grew to a height of 13ft 6ins and flowered in September-October. The foliage is now dying back. The leaves are yellowing but the thick stems look as though they will last forever. Should I leave them to die back naturally or should I be cutting them down and harvesting them?

Brian Zoebisch   Mon Dec 10 2007

Prior to researching this, from personal experience with the first batch that I steamed and ate that they were the source of an exceptionally painful gastrointestinal experience. However, to be fair, I did eat quite a large amount because they were just so good! Since that first experience I have been more cautious as to the quantity I ingest. These tubers have an amazing yield and taste quite delicious, although the skin can be very earthy. The cook extremely fast and are fantastic raw (remind me of Jicama). They are probably the easiest plant to grow, requiring minimal care. I planted in a raised bed, high in organic matter with a heavy top mulch of shredded leaves. I didn't water them once throughout the season. One cluster yields almost a full 5 gallon pail of tubers!! P.S. Mike you can just cut back the stalks when the foliage dies back.

seif elyazal;   Fri Dec 28 2007

that is nice , can u tell me from where can i buy some seeds of Helianthus tuberoses

david nicholls, Wellington, New Zealand   Wed Apr 23 2008

I've found this plant is indiffent to competition from the weed Tradescantia fluminensis or Wandering Jew (most people say Wandering Willie here nowdays)one of New Zealands worst and most pervasive weeds.Rare for a vegetable. I've also found it doen't mind some shade(the productivity may have been lower, I dont know).

William Reeve   Wed Apr 23 2008

I have grown H. tuberosus on tht coast of British Columbia for several years, far from its native habitat. In years with cool summers and less sunshine it grows but does not flower before being hit by frost However, it produces lots of tubers. Now, if only I could find one of those cultivars that produce less knobby tubers. I use it as a substitute for potatoes in some recipes such as vegetable borscht.

Sherry Nay   Sat May 24 2008

I live in northern B.C and was wondring if there is someone in Canada who would sell me some tubers please. You can send me an e-mail to [email protected] if interested please.

Nigel Rolland   Wed Jul 2 2008

I live in Ashton-under-lyne and I have been growing Helianthus tuberosus for four years now since buying a single potted tuber from the local farmers market. Cooking them has been a bit trial and error, I have generally boiled or roasted them or made them into soup but having read this I will try stir frying them or eating them raw in the future, can anyone point me to a database of recipes? I now grow them in tubs or raised beds and they keep well under earth, they have been a christmas treat when everything else in the garden has long gone.

shinobu k crotts   Sun Sep 21 2008

Where Can I get this plant ? If anyone knows any websights or stores, I would like to glow them in my back yard if it is possible, Please inform me, I'm in metro area in N.C. Thank you

Ellen Lamberigts   Wed Dec 3 2008

i'm writing a paper over this plant, and i need some old recipes of medecin for this plant. and also recipes that people used to make with it to make their health better, but that you can make yourself. you can always mail me at [email protected] Thank you very much!

   Wed Jan 28 2009

For the U.S. folks that want tubers they are commonly available in vegetable catalogs and through the seed savers exchange if you can't find any locally.

George McLaughlin Jr   Mon Feb 2 2009

I'm one of those who seems intolerant of ioline. But these are so good! And I used to eat them in quantity when a child. Seems to help if we boil them in two changes of water (about 5 minutes running boil in each). The water turns bright green and then I don't seem to have so much trouble. George Tahlequah, Oklahoma, USA

Matthew Sleigh   Mon Mar 23 2009

I have just dug up several kilos of Fuseau Rose tubercles. The tubercles grew in about 3 months here in Bukidnon - Philippines, which is pretty close to the equator. The soil surface area for the 2 plants was a maximum of 50 cm by 1 meter. The tubercles are smaller, paler and have little or no hard skin, compared to the original plants I was growing in southern France. It will be interesting to see what the other plants do. 2 of the other tubers only sprouted a few weeks ago, and are now growing well. I have also replanted several tubers ( of about 50g each ) in much softer soil. Diabetes is a big health problem here, so I am growing many plants that are said to be helpful.

Some plants said to be useful for diabetes sufferers

Maggie, Southampton, UK   Thu Apr 23 2009

We are growing these for the first time in the south of England. They have all sprouted well just recently despite planting the tubers on Feb 11th this year. Noticing a few nibbled leaves now so have been covering them at night with upturned pots but they are getting a bit big now, so hope those slugs or a late frost don't get them! We've taken note of the 'inulin effect' with due care and will feed back when they are ultimately harvested!!

Raffi   Sun Jul 12 2009

Plants.am - Garden plant encyclopedia Photos and growing information for Jerusalem artichokes.

Valerie   Wed Oct 14 2009

I am pretty sure I have corectly identified this plant growing in a roadside ditch (z3-4NY, along with hemerocalls fulva. The plants grow to five feet or taller with many flowers per stalk, and they smell faintly of Tootsie Rolls. The leaves feel very scratchy,as does the stalk. Maybe someone could confirm my suspicions with a pic of the stalk and leaves...? This plant flowers every year.

Lise Anne Janis   Sun Oct 18 2009

A friend gave some to me. I planted them near the front of the garden in order to provide a screen from the road. The second year they took over! Some plants are 8' tall. They didn't flower until September and now I'm carefully digging out all the tubers because they took over my vegetable garden. I tried weeding them out throughout the summer but removing one plant only caused 5 more to grow. This is a very invasive plant! - Lise in Guelph ON

Valdo Raudsepp   Sat Oct 31 2009

I leave in North-Europa in Estonia and have been experimenting with Jerusalem Artichokes as fuel ethanol feedstock. Some varieties flower even here. I am looking for following USA origin varieties - Stampede and Maine Giant. Also Russian origin varieties Nahodka and Novost Vira are very interesting. By the way the last one is hybrid of Jerusalem Artichoke and Sunflower. Can trade for German origin high productivity early maturing varieties like Topstar or Gute Gelbe. E-mail yourdreamou(at)gmail.com

Nigel Murison   Sat Oct 31 2009

I have tubers for sale this year 2009 U.K.ONLY.email [email protected]

Click the link to a post on my website (in Dutch).   Nov 20 2010 12:00AM

I'm growing Topinambour in several pots on my balcony. As well as in several gardens. Today my gardener's world was rocked when I weighed my harvest from just one flower pot on my south side balcony. This year's harvest from a large flower pot on my balcony turned out to be 863 tons per hectare. The harvest from the pot was 6,1 kilo. The pot has a surface of 0,07 square metres. Hence the figure of 863.000 kilos per hectare. Click the link to a post on my website (in Dutch).

   Jun 27 2011 12:00AM

I grew Jerusalem Artichokes in Austria and plants grew well but did not flower (they were growing in partial shade). You can abandon them, they grow well without any care. They produce rather heavily, even when I grew them in poor and dry soils. The pity is that the cooked tubers gave us some stomach ache and gas. They don't taste bad. Maybe your body can get used to them. Its a pity because they are so productive. Now I am growing them in Iceland, and plants have been growing well, but slowly, and for sure will not flower at this growth rate.

   Jun 27 2011 12:00AM

I can also confirm their use as a very good edge plant. They grow tall, and stand strong winds.

   Jun 27 2011 12:00AM

Another detail, the leaves are frost sensitive. But if top growth dies, new growth will come again from the tubers.

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Subject : Helianthus tuberosus  
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