per 100 grams
Carbohydrates 5.3 g
Proteins 0.8 g
Fats 0.1 g
Water 93.5 g
Fiber 1.7 grams
Trans Fats 0 ug
Ash 0.3 grams


22 Calories per 100g

What is a Cardoon?

A cardoon is an edible Mediterranean plant belonging to the thistle family, native to regions of Spain, Italy, and northern Africa. The plant has long, silvery, bluish-green leaves that are deeply serrated, resembling opuntia cactus pads. These leaves are attached to a thick, spiny stalk, which ranges in size from 3 to 6 feet (1 to 2 meters) in height. Cardoons are a popular vegetable in Mediterranean cooking, used either cooked or raw as an ingredient.

Cardoon shares many similar characteristics with artichoke, and have an edible flower head that tastes like artichoke hearts when cooked. Both vegetables can also be eaten raw in salads – although cardoon does have a slightly sharper flavor that artichoke.


Cardoons have large, spiny, phyllodes (spiny modified leaves), which vary in length from 3 to 6 feet (1 to 2 meters) and in breadth from 1 to 2 inches (2.5 to 5 centimeters). The leaves are heavily serrated with a central vein, and they have a thick, opaque texture that makes them relatively strong. Cardoons also bear clusters of small yellow flowers along the stem in the summer months.

Culinary Use

In the kitchen, cardoons are sliced into strips and sautéed in butter or oil and seasoned with garlic, salt, and pepper. They can also be steamed, boiled, or served as a salad. Cardoon is known for its distinctive sweet and nutty flavor, often served as an accompaniment to roast meats, poultry, or fish. Its dense texture holds up well to longer cooking times, making it ideal for soups and stews. Raw cardoons can be thinly sliced and served as part of a salad, providing a crunchy texture with a mild, somewhat grassy taste.

Nutritional Benefits

Cardoon is a great source of carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. It is particularly high in vitamin C, calcium, and magnesium, which are essential for maintaining a healthy immune system and bone health. Cardoon is also a good source of folate, and contains more antioxidants than many green vegetables, providing protection from free radicals and cancer.

Growing Cardoons

Cardoon is an easy-to-grow plant and will thrive in any well-drained soil with plenty of sun and warmth. It is best started from seed in the early spring after the last frost and can be planted directly into the ground. Alternatively, it can be grown in pots in a greenhouse. Once planted, the seeds need to be sown very shallowly, as the delicate plants can be easily damaged.

The plants require regular watering during the summer months, however, waterlogging should be avoided as this can cause crown rot. Cardoons will require some staking as the stems can grow tall and top-heavy. The plants should be harvested when the stems are 2 to 3 feet (0.6 to 0.9 metres) in length.

Cardoons are a unique and delicious vegetable that is easy to cultivate and appears in many different cooking styles. If you are looking for a unique and flavorful addition to dishes or salads, cardoon is a great option to consider.