Artichoke or Cardoon?

A couple of weeks ago I saw an artichoke flower for the first time – Claire at Promenade Plantings posted some fabulous photos of her beautiful artichokes here.

Then last week, while visiting a walled garden in the English countryside, I came across this…

Not an artichoke as I first thought, but a Cardoon (Cynara cardunculus), sometimes called an Artichoke Thistle.

While reading up on it I was pleased to discover that not only is it edible – like the artichoke – but the plant is also a source of vegetable rennet used for cheeses, particularly in Portugal!

For comparison, here is a Globe Artichoke (Cynara cardunculus var. scolymus) flower, photographed a few feet away from the Cardoon. (They were labelled in this garden, so I’m relying on those gardeners to have got it right!)

Can YOU spot the difference? (I can’t!) Confusing! They are really so similar, and obviously very close cousins! Perhaps the foliage is the clue, but I unfortunately did not think to photograph the leaves.

If anyone can enlighten me, I’d love to hear from you! Have you ever grown them in your garden?