Taxonomy of Cardoon (Cynara cardunculus L., 1753) according to Cronquist System
Superkingdom or Domain: Eucariota Whittaker & Margulis,1978
Kingdom: Plantae Haeckel, 1866
Subkingdom: Viridaeplantae Cavalier-Smith, 1998 (Piante verdi)
Superdivision: Spermatophyta Gustav Hegi, 1906 (Piante con semi)
Division or Phylum: Tracheophyta Sinnott, 1935 ex Cavalier-Smith, 1998
Subdivision: Magnoliophytina Frohne & U. Jensen ex Reveal, 1996
Class: Rosopsida Batsch, 1788
Subclass: Asteridae Takht., 1967
SuperOrder: Asteranae Takht., 1967
Order: Asterales Lindl., 1833
Family: Asteraceae Martynov, 1820
Subfamily: Cynaroideae (Durande) Chevall., 1828
Tribe: Cynareae Lam. et DC., 1806 or Cardueae Cass., 1819
Subtribe: Carduinae (Cass.) Dumort., 1827
Genus: Cynara L. (1753)
Species: Cynara cardunculus L. (1753)

Taxonomy of Cardoon (Cynara cardunculus L., 1753) according to APG System
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms Eudicots James A. Doyle and Carol L. Hotton, 1991
Core Eudicots or Core Tricolpates
Asterales Lindl., 1833
Asteraceae Martynov, 1820
Carduoideae Cass. ex Sweet, 1826
Cynareae Lam. & DC., 1806 or Carduea Cass., 1819
Genus: Cynara L. (1753)
Species: Cynara cardunculus L. (1753)

Origin and diffusion
The cardoon is a plant original of the Mediterranean area. It has evolved by selective cultivation of the wild form beginning in classical times in the Mediterranean. Cardoon is cultivated already to the time of the Roman. Plinio, in its “Natural History” numbers it between the valuable vegetable crops. The cardoon, from an historical point of view is a plant much ancient. The first sure references have been found in the Egyptian civilization; but before still it seems that it was used in Ethiopia. From North Africa, the cardoon was diffused in all the Countries of the Mediterranean.
Since ancient times, the buds and seeds served in order to produce the rennet of cheeses, but it must attend the ' 500 in order to find the first traces of its presence in kitchen (“cooked in the soup of the fat capon”) and of its technique of the blanching (two doctors of the court of the Savoy, at the end of the ' 500 write: “they are eaten ordinarily in the autumn and the winter made tender and white under the soil”) The cardoon is the symbol of the Scotia. The legend tells that a group of Vikings was in order to be strange in the sleep of the Scot; but the ambush failed because an invader treading on with the foot knot a thistle was put to scream. In the Scottish banners in fact the cardoon comes associated to a Latin maxim nemo me impune lacessit, that means "nobody will provoke to me without to remain unpunished.
The cardoon is much analogous one to the Artichoke but it a greater development in height and leaves with petioles, venations and ribbings that are thick and fleshy and constitute the used product in the feeding.
Nowadays it can be found spontaneous in the riverside countries of the Mediterranean, both in the continental zone and in the isles. Although it is a labour intensive and fairly unproductive crop it is widely grown in Italy, Spain, and France, and in other Mediterranean countries.
It is also found in South Portugal, the Canary Islands and in the Azores Islands. Naturalised cultivars are also found in California, Mexico and in the southern countries of South America (Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Uruguay), where it is known as "Cardo de Castilla" (Castillian thistle). This species is also naturalised in Australia.
The cardoon is a species, which belongs to the Asteraceae Family (Compositae), as well as the artichoke, the sunflower, the safflower or the Jerusalem artichoke.
The cardoon is a perennial species that during its natural cycle sprouts in autumn, passes the winter in rosette form and in spring develops a floral scape, which dries in summer while the remnant roots stay alive. Beginning the autumn, the buds in the upper part of the roots put out and develop a new rosette in order to continue the cycle for several years. Thanks to its deep root system, it is able to extract water and nutrients from very deep soil zones and due to this, in non-watering conditions, using the rainwater accumulated during autumn, winter and spring, total biomass production can rise to 20-30 tons dry matter per ha and year, with 2.000-3.000 kg of seeds, rich in oil (25%) and proteins (20%).
General advantages of cardoon production are the high yields, the adaptation to dry conditions and the multiple use.
General main barriers to cardoon production are that harvesters are under development and even storage methods.
Cordoon is a perennial thistle-like plant. Cynara seems to be well adapted to dry Mediterranean conditions where most precipitation occurs during the winter season. In its natural cycle it sprouts in autumn and passes the winter as a rosette.
In the spring a floral scape is developed which dries during summer and the whole crop can be harvested dry (10-15% water) in late summer. By this growth cycle the winter rains are used for the energy crop production.
The cardoon is traditionally cultivated in some areas as a horticultural plant but its cultivation cycle is completely artificial in the Mediterranean area, as it is sown at the end of spring and it stays the summer in a vegetative state and consequently it needs watering during this period. After a bleaching period, which usually takes about one month, it is harvested at the beginning of the winter. The commercial product is the enlarged petioles of the basal leaves.
The common names of this vegetable crop are the following:

Botanical description
Cardoon is an architectural splendor with bold texture, thanks to its large, prickly, almost dagger-shaped gray-green arching leaves and a statuesque, vase-shaped frame. It is topped with round, purple, thistlelike flowers in midsummer. Cardoon can reach up to 150 cm tall and 120 cm wide. The leaves of the basal rosette are petiolate, very large (more than 50 x 35 cm), subcoriaceous, bright green and shortly tomentose above and white-tomentose beneath.
They are usually deeply divided. Segments are ovate to linear-lanceolate, with rigid, yellow spines 15-35 mm at the apex and clustered at the base. The intensity of the spiny character changes among the different varieties. The leaves on the stem are alternate and sessile. The stem is the floral scape as a corymbose cyme. It can reach more than 2 m high. The flowers are grouped in large globose capitula (up to 8 cm in diameter).
Involucral bracts are ovate to elliptical, gradually or abruptly narrowed into an erectopatent spine (10-50 x 2-6 mm), which can be either glaucescent or purplish. The corolla can be blue, lilac or whitish.
The achenes (6-8 x 3-4 mm) are shiny and brown-spotted.
The pappus can measure 25-40 mm.
The chromosome number is 2n=34.
According to A. Wiklund, the species Cynara cardunculus may be divided into two subspecies (subsp. flavescens and subsp. cardunculus) related to the geographical distribution.
The Cynara cardunculus subsp flavescens is found in Macaronesia, Portugal and the N.W. Mediterranean region, whereas Cynara cardunculus subsp. cardunculus has a mainly central and N.E. Mediterranean distribution. Naturalised cultivars in America and Australia are very similar to Cynara cardunculus subsp. flavescens.

Ecological requirements
Cardoon prefers an fertile, fresh and deep soil of medium loam and without water excess, with pH towards neuter. Its development happens also on sandy soil and with a scarce salinity; the temperature demands are similar to these of the artichoke even if it is more susceptible towards low temperature stopping the growth at 0 °C and can die for temperature below -2 °C. The minimal temperature to which the thistle it begins to growth is around the 7°C, that optimal one goes from 16 to 18 °C (data refers to the medium monthly temperatures). The exposure must be sunny.
They are established that the highest number of plants and good yields are obtained where the best water availability can be expected. At least 400 mm of precipitation during autumn, winter and spring is required to obtain a good yield.
In general terms, such as we read in the handbooks, the thistle demands fertile and fresh soils, of medium paste with neutral reaction (pH 6,5-7). In reality this vegetable can succeed in several types of ground, comprised those pebbly ones, provided that it is offered of water in order to water, and those heaviest ones, in case not there are stagnations. It is opportune not to cultivate the thistle in soil plots where in precedence 2-3 vintage years there was the same thistle or other plants belonging the same botanical family (artichoke, lettuce, escarole, red lettuce and cicory).
As a general recommendation for the sowing time according to the weather, it is necessary to plan a period from 1 to 2 months (depending on the growth speed), which should be free of frost. Note that the crop can tolerate temperatures under -5ºC once the seedlings have 4 leaves.
This species requires light, deep and limy soils, with capacity of retaining winter and spring water in the subsoil (1-3 metres).

The name of the varieties, like for various other vegetable crops, refers to the diffusion zones, for example thistle of Asti, of Romagna, of Chieri, of Nice.
An other distinction is based on the presence of thorns on the leaves (spiny thistles) or on their absence (unarmed thistles).
The cardoon plant material is much less studied than globe artichoke one. Firstly, because it is a crop relatively less important in growing surface, and second, because it is mostly restricted to the Mediterranean area. Most varieties reported in the literature, either globe artichoke or cardoon, are considered in this paper arranged by morphological or genetic similarities.
Cardoon appear only in few and some catalogues of manufacturer companies that commercialize seeds and the number of varieties can interest only few horticulturists. The main varieties of thistle cultivated in Italy are the following:
• Thistle of Bologna (figure 1), lacking in thorns, with full ribs, of medium sizes;

Figure 1 - Cardoon of Bologna ready for the commercialization.

• Thistle of Chieri, much diffusing in Piedmont, of good quality, little spiny and easy preservable. Typical vegetable crop of Chieri and Andezeno, green colour outside and white man inside, with long foliar nerv and to hold, presence of lateral thorns, slightly bitter taste. The horticultural farmer are specialized in this cultivation and fix the date of seed of the thistles in the day of S. George, patron of the city. Then, twenty or so days before the collection, the plants come covered in order protect the stalk from the light, to the aim to render the coasts more white women and to hold.
More than a dish, Bagna Cauda is a rite. It is synonymous of good company, delicious food, and the season's new wine. A Bagna Cauda meal must be concluded with hot Bollito and stock, said to favour digestion.
The origins of this dish are remote: it may be a direct descendant of garum, a sauce that was ubiquitous in ancient Roman cuisine. Garum consisted of the foul-smelling fluid oozing from fish that was flavoured with spices and left to ferment. It must have resembled blachang, widely used in SE Asian cuisine. Bagna Cauda, or rather its main ingredient salted anchovies, reached Piedmont along with salt smuggled from Liguria through the Alps: this traffic originated in the attempts to evade Genoa's monopoly on salt. Smugglers often hid their precious loads under a thick layer of salted anchovies. After Genoa lost her privilege in the early nineteenth century, anchovies gradually became the real object of the no-longer illegal trade, and several former smugglers turned into dealers.
Most of them were part-time farmers and peasants who left their fields in September to reach Liguria, maybe Sicily, or even Portugal and Greece. There, they bought their stock from fishermen or wholesalers and took off again for Piedmont's towns, markets, and farms. Bagna Cauda is a simple dish, but with a number of local variations, as each town or village (or, indeed, falimy) claims to own the one and only "original" recipe.
Whatever the recipe, the other main ingredient of Bagna Cauda is garlic. It needs no introduction, having been known and used for thousands of years. In ancient Egypt, seven kilos of garlic could buy a young slave, whereas the Greeks and Romans believed it could enhance the strength and aggressiveness of athletes and soldiers.
In the Middle Ages and afterwards it was considered a charm against witches and vampires, as well as a potent aphrodisiac. And so on. The other protagonists of Bagna Cauda are the vegetables that are dipped in the piping hot sauce (which is exactly what "Bagna Cauda" means). We have chosen two, that are especially rooted in the Piedmontese tradition. One is Jerusalem artichokes, aka "topinambour".
This nutritious tuber was first brought Europe in the sixteenth century. Easy to grow in any climate, it has beautiful yellow flowers, whereas its roots are widely used to produce syrups, spirits, and cosmetics. Its taste is delicate, artichoke-like and is excellent with Bagna Cauda.
For culinary purposes, the yellower, smoother roots are to be preferred, discarding the purplish or knottier ones. This tuber can be eaten raw or boiled, mashed or fried, or added to salads. The other protagonist is cardoon. It has an unmistakable bittersweet taste, and is extensively grown in Piedmont, especially in Valle Belbo and around the town of Chieri. In Piedmontese dialect, cardoons are also called "gobbi," meaning "stooped", since they are bent, tied, and kept underground for some time to improve their colour, texture and flavour.
• Cardoon of Tours, important variety but not diffused because spiny;
• Giant of Romagna (figure 2), variety much similar one to the thistle of Chieri, cultivated in the entire area of Romagna. The plants are of remarkable development (up to 160 cm and beyond height), with wide foliar lamina, medium indentation, green-gray-clear colored, with petiole long, medium concave and without thorns. The sowing is carried out directly in seedbed or in open field with 4-5 seeds for hole, from February to May; the distance from plant to plant must be of approximately 60 cm. The harvesting happens from September to February. In order to facilitate the blanching, the plants are wrapped, with paper or straw.
Cardoon seeds for the Giant of Romagna produce a large ribbed version of the exotic and hard to find vegetable cardoon with fine notched leaves, attractive to grow and popular with chefs;

Figure 2 – Giant of Romagna variety.

• Cardo di Toscana with vein of the leaves large, fleshy and white. Leaves thinly indented, without thorns. Vigorous and peasant plant. It needs of blanching. This cardoon can be cooked in a variety of ways. Around Tuscany this vegetable is loved by everyone but especially by artichoke lovers that can get that same taste during the winter when this lonk stalked vegetable can substitute the bitter-sweet flavor of the artichoke. The stalks of cardoons are really long, so that when they grow they tend to hunch down, this is why in Tuscany cardoons are called “gobbi” or hunchbacks. There is a particular area known as Val di Cornia where this vegetable grows and thrives and is widely used in local culinary traditions. This variety of cardoon - otherwise known as the “Gobbo” of Val di Cornia - is one of the most typical vegetables that grows in the valley. Its edible part is bright white and has a rather bitter taste. The cardoon is usually planted at the beginning of August, in fields that have been previously worked. During its harvest, farmers carry out careful visual inspections to detect the presence of mold or other problems. In regards to its cultivation, we can mention that this variety has seeds that tend to self-produce. This factor allows farmers to preserve this species organic qualities;
• Cardoon White ivory (figure 3) is a variety unarmed with foliar lamina subdivided and indentate, mean-wide and carnose veins. Of rule without thorns. Of these varieties some selections are notes;

Figure 3 – Cardoon White ivory like to cardoon of Asti.

• The Spadone of Nice (called hunchback thistle) is sure most delicate and refined (figure 4). A deepening detail deserves the hunchback thistle. It comes only cultivated in the flat ones to sides of the Belbo torrent and the river Nice because these are the only apt lands (sandy of fluvial origin, soft, light). Of colour whitish, it assumes the nickname of " gobbo" for the detail aspect with which it is introduced after the blanching underground. Its most limited production of it prevents a spread trades them very greater. L' expert of the cultivation of the thistle, the “cardarolo”, he is not a common peasant and it is not even a market gardener. To its ability to job, to its sage ability and its passion this pleasant product must. In spring, towards the second fortnight of May seeds it happens it, later on, during l' summer, comes cleaned up and weeded from the infesting grass. The thistle suffers the frozen ones terribly, but these are previewed from the expert peasants and thus, towards first of September, it begins the burial. It is begun with digging the wide hole, alloy the plant to approximately 50 cm of height, put to bed one on a flank with delicacy, avoiding to break off the stalk, and it is covered with approximately 20 cm of soil. Here it is left, according to the temperature, from two to four weeks. It is exactly the blanching underground that it is prevented in the light of reaching the destined parts of the plant to the consumption, rendering them thus white, sweet and holding to the palate (with the transformation of the chlorophyll, green and bitter, in short of reservoir, that is sugars and starches). Beside this system, traditional, it has been asserted, of recent, a various procedure of blanching that is taken advantage of black bags. The plant blanching equally, but does not become sufficiently tender for the consumption to raw. This operation reduces but the waste of leaves that rot. It exists to discipline of production of the hunchback thistle that here filler:

Il presente disciplinare di produzione definisce i principi generali, gli standard qualitativi minimi e le direttive per la produzione ecocompatibile del Cardo Gobbo di Nizza Monferrato, di seguito denominato semplicemente cardo.

Provincia di Asti
Slow Food Arcigola
Federazione Provinciale Coltivatori Diretti
Confederazione Italiana Agricoltori di Asti
Unione Agricoltori di Asti

Art. 1. Area geografica e vocazionalità
Questa pianta, diffusa in tutto il bacino del Mediterraneo, ha trovato nell'areale della Valle Belbo, tra Nizza Monferrato, Incisa Scapaccino e Castelnuovo Belbo le condizioni ideali per la coltivazione. Infatti, i terreni di fondovalle, sabbiosi e alluvionali che costeggiano il fiume Belbo e i suoi affluenti, consentono l'ottenimento di cardi di eccellente qualità. L'areale di produzione del cardo individuato dal presente disciplinare comprende i seguenti comuni: Nizza Monferrato, Calamandrana, Canelli, San Marzano Oliveto, Vinchio, Vaglio Serra, Incisa Scapaccino, Castenuovo Belbo, Bruno.
Nella tabella 1 sono indicati i valori ottimali dei parametri pedologici per la coltivazione del cardo gobbo di Nizza Monferrato.

Table 1 - Optimal values of the pedological parameters.
Parametri pedologici
(con riferimento allo strato esplorato dalle radici)


Dotazione sostanza organica
Franco; Franco-Sabbioso; Franco-Limoso

Buono: l'acqua è rimossa dal suolo prontamente e/o non si verificano durante la stagione vegetativa eccessi di umidità limitanti lo sviluppo della coltura
50-60 cm
6,5-7,5 (reazione da leggermente acida a leggermente alcalina)

The thistle prefers environment with cold and foggy autumnal climate: for the cultivation it is advised to hold account of some climatic parameters us whose the values are brought back in table 2.

Table 2 - Values of the climatic parameters for the cultivation of the thistle.
Parametri climatici Valori consigliati
Minimum temperature of growth vegetative
Minimum biological temperature

Optimal length of the vegetation
7° - 9°C
Temperature di poco inferiori a 0° pregiudicano la sopravvivenza delle piante; nei primi stadi di sviluppo le basse temperature e la siccità, possono indurre la prefioritura
50-60 cm

Art. 2. Preparazione del terreno
Si consiglia una accurata sistemazione del terreno per facilitare lo sgrondo delle acque in eccesso. La lavorazione del terreno ha lo scopo di preparare il letto di semina che consente la buona germinazione dei semi e lo sviluppo delle plantule: a questo riguardo si consiglia di seguire le indicazioni della tabella 3.

Table 3 – Main agronomical works for the hunchback thistle cultivation.
Operazione Epoca Note
Estirpatura e affinamento
Preparazione letto di semina
Fine estate-primavera
Tardo autunno-primavera
Immediatamente prima della semina
Profondità 30-50 cm
Pareggio del terreno e distruzione delle erbe infestanti
Per distruggere eventuali erbe infestanti e preparare il terreno

Art. 3. Impianto
Il cardo gobbo è classificato botanicamente nella specie Cynara cardunculus L. var. altilis D.C. appartenente alla famiglia delle Asteracee. Le piante hanno un’altezza di circa 80 cm e presentano foglie piuttosto larghe con nervatura bianca e lembo tendenzialmente intero, dalla forma tipica e profondamente diversa dalle altre attualmente presenti sul mercato.
Utilizzare esclusivamente seme della varietà SPADONE proveniente dai produttori della zona descritta al punto 1.
La semina, manuale o meccanica, si effettua verso la metà di maggio, in ragione di 6-8 kg di seme per ettaro collocato alla profondità di 3 - 4 cm. Nel caso si ricorra alla semina di precisione la quantità la quantità di seme può ridursi considerevolmente.
La distanza tra le file file è di 100 - 180 cm mentre quelle tra le piante sulla fila è di 20 - 40 cm.
Art. 4. Cure culturali
Trattandosi di una cultura molto rustica, coltivata normalmente in terreni piuttosto poveri e sciolti, il presente disciplinare nel rispetto della tecnica tradizionale non ammette interventi con fertilizzanti chimici di sintesi.
Dopo circa un mese dalla semina, a meno che non sia stata effettuata una semina di precisione, occorre effettuare il diradamento delle piantine in eccesso per ottenere la giusta densità colturale. Inoltre si effettuano una o più sarchiature per arieggiare il terreno ed eliminare le erbe infestanti.
Durante il ciclo colturale che ha una durata di circa 5 mesi, dalla semina all'interramento della pianta per l'imbianchimento, si può irrigare in caso di necessità per aspersione o per infiltrazione laterale da solchi, tenendo presente che il cardo è una coltura molto rustica dotata di un ottimo apparato radicale.
Per il controllo delle erbe infestanti non possono essere utilizzati gli erbicidi chimici di sintesi. In pre-semina è possibile ricorrere alla tecnica della falsa semina. In post-emergenza le operazioni meccaniche richieste dalla coltura, quali il diradamento e le sarchiature, sono sufficenti a contenere le erbe infestanti. In ogni caso, dopo un mese dalla semina, per il forte sviluppo vegetativo del cardo le infestanti eventualmente presenti vengono "soffocate".
Sulla coltura non sono ammessi interventi con antiparassitari chimici di sintesi. Solo in caso di eccezionale calamità, previa autorizzazione del Comitato di Controllo, sarà possibile ricorrere all'uso di tali prodotti per la difesa della coltura, nel rispetto della normativa fitosanitaria vigente e i formulati commerciali a bassa tossicità.
Almeno 20 giorni prima della raccolta (a seconda della temperatura ambientale), le piante devono essere legate a ciuffo, quindi si scava un solco laterale alla fila della profondità di 10-15 cm in cui la pianta viene adagiata senza lesionarle le radici e ricoperta con una strato di terreno di 5-15 cm (in funzione della temperatura ambientale), avendo cura di lasciare scoperta la parte distale delle foglie. Il numero di giorni d'interramento e lo spessore dello strato di terra, aumentano man mano che diminuiscono le temperature, passando da settembre a novembre.
L'imbianchimento del cardo, operazione molto onerosa e caratteristica, deve avvenire esclusivamente sotto terra, affinché le coste fogliari assumano la caratteristica gobba, imbianchiscano per la perdita di clorofilla, perdano gran parte della fibrosità diventando croccanti e dolci per la riduzione dei principi amari.
Il prodotto finale alla raccolta si presenta bianco e di peso variabile, ma comunque caratteristicamente gobbo con le coste raccolte e compatte.
Art. 5. Raccolta
Il momento della raccolta è determinante per la qualità globale del prodotto. L'inizio della raccolta parte dalla prima decade di ottobre, salvo diversa indicazione del Comitato di Controllo, e tale regola dovrà essere rispettata da tutti i produttori che aderiranno al presente disciplinare. Durante la raccolta occorre effettuare una cernita del prodotto, eliminando i cardi danneggiati o affetti da marciumi e vanno adottati tutti gli accorgimenti utili a preservare l'integrità e l'igiene del prodotto.
Art. 6. Confezionamento e commercializzazione
Una volta raccolto il prodotto, ottenuto seguendo il disciplinare, dovrà essere contrassegnato con l'apposizione sull'imballaggio di una etichetta marchiata, che consenta l'individuazione del prodotto e del produttore in tutte le fasi della distribuzione. Il confezionamento verrà fatto escusivamente in cassette di legno nuovo o di plastica pulita senza indicazioni esterne.
Viene individuato un marchio distintivo per i cardi prodotti seguendo il presente disciplinare, con l'obiettivo di rendere il prodotto facilmente riconoscibile dal consumatore e adottando i necessari accorgimenti per evitarne l'eventuale contraffazione. Viene individuato un Comitato di Controllo che assuma tra l'altro la responsabilità della concessione e controllo del marchio. I produttori dovranno presentare a tale comitato, entro il 30 giugno di ogni anno, i dati catastali inerenti agli appezzamenti coltivati a cardo e la produzione massima ottenibile, al fine di ottenere la concessione del numero di etichette da apporre sugli imballaggi. La produzione massima per ettaro è di 70 quintali.
Art. 7. Comitato di Controllo
Il Comitato di Controllo è composto da un rappresentante della Provincia di Asti, un rappresentante del comune di Nizza Monferrato, un rappresentante della Associazione Slow Food, un rappresentante per ognuna delle tre maggiori Organizzazioni Professionali e da tutti i produttori. Il Comitato di Controllo ha tra i suoi compiti fondamentali la verifica dell'attuazione di quanto sancito dal presente disciplinare e di rilasciare le etichette marchiate o l'autorizzazione alla stampa delle stesse.

Prima di concludere questa breve rassegna riguardante i cardi gobbi vengono date alcune indicazioni culinarie. Se consumato a crudo, il cardo va pulito con cura liberandolo dai filamenti ed immerso in acqua resa acidula con limone per evitare che diventi scuro; se cotto, durante la bollitura devono nuovamente essere aggiunte alcune gocce di limone per evitare che diventi di colore bluastro. Il cardo nicese è ottimo consumato crudo con la "bagna caoda" , salsa tradizionale piemontese in abbinamento a verdure e che ha come ingredienti acciughe, aglio e olio. Gli ingredienti per 4 persone: 40 grammi di burro, 250 grammi di olio extravergine d'oliva, 200 grammi di aglio, 200 grammi di acciughe sotto sale. La preparazione consiste nel togliere i germogli centrali dell' aglio e pestarli nel mortaio, non prima però di aver spellato gli spicchi. Lavare le acciughe per eliminare il sale, sciacquarle e asciugarle con carta da cucina. Mettere l' olio in un tegame di coccio resistente al fuoco. Cuocere a fuoco basso mescolando di continuo fino a che le acciughe non saranno completamente disfatte e l' aglio sarà cotto. Fate bollire il condimento senza farlo friggere. Aggiungere il burro, mescolare finché sarà sciolto e portare in tavola. La bagna caoda viene servita in appositi tegamini di coccio posti su piccoli fornelli che vengono posti sul piatto di ogni persona. Viene servita con verdure crude e cotte, le più utilizzate sono: peperoni, insalata, verza, carote, cuore di cardo, radicchio, porro, patate cotte al vapore, cipolle al forno, peperoni abbrustoliti, scarola, cavolfiore lessato, barbabietola, cipollotto.
Per concludere questa breve rassegna varietale bisogna sottolineare che è consigliabile indirizzarsi su quelle varietà o ecotipi coltivati localmente, in particolare nelle zone dove con questo ortaggio si preparano piatti caratteristici e non solo per un migliore adattamento all’ambiente di coltivazione.
Figure 4 – Hunchbacked cardoon of Nizza Monferrato.

Cultivation technique
The soil should be prepared with a good plowing and with an abundant organic and mineral fertilization, and subsequently smoothed and well prepared. The implant (in spring) can be achieved by direct sowing planting (in April-May with rows distant 1 m among the rows and 80 cm between the plants on the row, or by holes away 80-100 cm, where to positione 3-4 seeds per hole, equal to 2-2,5 kg per hectare, and after the emergence of the plants then thinning, leaving alone one plant. It can also perform the transplant of seedlings, obtained in seedbeds (nursery) or in special containers (from May to June, when the plants have reached the fiftieth or sixtieth leaf, with a investment density of 12,000-13,000 plants per hectare. Are then carried out weed-killing (for weed control), fertilization on the soil and irrigation, if necessary. Because the thistle is placed for sale after undergoing bleaching, it must cover the plant, from the baseline up to about two-thirds of the height, to protect it from light. For this purpose the leaves of the plant are tied together around the stem central axis, and then it can make the ridging, soil accumulating as a conical mound to the base of the plants; or it can bend the plant within a pit dug next to it, then covering it with soil, leaving uncovered the apical part; or you wrap the plant with straw or cardboard or with an opaque black plastic sheets, placed by machines in the industrial crops (Figure 5). The duration of the bleaching technique varies as a function of temperature from about 2 to 3 weeks.

Figure 5 – Plants wrapped by black burlaps for the bleaching.

Harvesting and yield
Al momento della raccolta (da settembre a fine primavera), il cardo viene estirpato, privato delle radici e delle foglie esterne e mozzato all'estremità.
Le rese in prodotto lordo si aggirano intorno ai 400 quintali ad ettaro; il prodotto commerciale raccolto, eliminate le foglie esterne, la parte superiore della lamina e l'apparato radicale, si aggira intorno ai 150-200 quintali. il prodotto viene normalmente commercializzato fresco appena raccolto.

Avversità e parassiti
Tra le malattie fungine:
- Oidio o mal bianco (Leveillula taurica f. sp. cynarae Jaczewski);
- Peronospora (Bremia lactucae Regel.).
Batteriosi: Marciume batterico (Erwinia carotovora var. carotovora (Jones) Dye).
Virosi: Maculatura anulare.
- Cassida (Cassida deflorata Suffr.);
- Punteruolo (Larinus cynarae F.);
- Altica (Sphaeroderma ribudum Graells);
- Nottua (Hydroecia xanthenes Germ.);
- Vanessa (Vanessa cardui L.);
- Gelechia (Depressaria erinacella Stgr.);
- Afide (Brachycaudus cardui L.);
- Mosca del cardo (Agromyza andalusiaca Strobl);
Molluschi: limaccia grigia (Agriolimax agrestis L.).

Nutritive properties
Kcal per 100 g di prodotto: 10;
proteine per 100 g: 0,6 g;
grassi per 100 g: 0,1 g;
carboidrati per 100 g (glucidi disponibili): 1,7 g;
vitamine: C, PP;
sali minerali: calcio (96 mg su 100 g), sodio, potassio e fosforo.
Il cardo ha proprietà depurative del fegato, perché stimola la secrezione biliare, e dell’intestino. Aiuta a eliminare tossine, scorie e radicali liberi. I suoi effetti su chi li consuma sono antiossidanti, antidolorifici, diuretici e stimolanti della digestione. Inoltre fa diminuire la stanchezza, da vivacità ai tessuti e alla mente, aiuta a prevenire le infiammazioni.

The cardoon in kitchen
The smell of the thistle remembers that one of the artichoke very and if it is of optimal quality, like that Hunchback of the Monferrato, it only can be consumed raw. Of norm, but, the baking is necessary. The coasts go cleaned up eliminating those more external and those damaged, besides the leaves and to the root. The more tender and good part is the heart. It must also remove fibrous filaments, cutting to the coasts to long pieces a some thirty of centimeters and pulling towards the low filaments beginning from the cut. As it happens also to the artichokes, if left to the air the thistles blacken. For this he is advisable to put those in soaking in water acidulated with the juice of average lemon before the baking. Then they can boiling, acidulating also the baking water if it wants that their colour is maintained. Once cut in the wished measure, the thistles go pre-boiled in salt hot water. Then they could be further on cooked according to the specific prescription. One of the more famous uses of the thistles in kitchen is the accompanied with “bathes caoda”, that is a caloric and tasty sauce and made up of anchovies, garlic and chilli pepper. In this case they go eaten raw, therefore it is necessary to choose the more valuable varieties.
Following they are listed some prescriptions of true culinary art of the thistle:
Cardoons Gratin, in which they are baked with olive oil and cheese. Delicious and well worth making if you only plan to eat cardoons once in a great while; this recipe is Holly’s favorite: Thistles bacon and cheese (ingredients for 4 persons):
1 beautiful bunch of spontaneous thistles, 200 g of sweet stiff bacon (or raw or cooked lard or ham), 100 g of pecorino young cheese, 100 g of grated grain cheese, 4 segments of garlic, 1 little bunch of parsley and marjoram, extra virgin olive oil, knows them pepper and wine Vernaccia.
Preparation: to clean up well the thistles removing the filaments and scouring them with force with a rough dust cloth, to cut them to pieces and to a little strips, to crush the garlic segments, to make to gild them in the oil with to the charcuteries cutting little pieces, to eliminate the garlic, to pour the thistles and to make to gild them and to tenderize to covered frying pan, when they are tender to salt, to pepper and to vanish with the wine, to add the herb chopped most fine, to move the thistles and the sauce in a heat-resistant pan, to distribute on the surface cheeses, to pass in warm furnace the time that the deep cheese and takes colour, to serve.
Wild thistles and fungi with potatoes (ingredients for 4 persons):
1 large bunch of wild thistles us, 500 g of fungi “carboncelli” or “Saint George” or “prataioli, grated pecorino young cheese, Sardinian fresh sausage g 150, bread I confirm g 150, 1 flour spoon white woman, 3 segments of garlic, grated bread g 20, extra virgin olive oil g 50, 1 little bunch of parsley, knows them and pepper.
Preparation: to clean up the thistles removing the filaments and the bitter skin and scottar them in salt hot water where it has been put the flour, until to when they are tender to the tooth. To place in a soup dish potatoes peelings cutting little pieces of parsley and the garlic; cut the dice the bread I confirm, to cut the sausage tocchetti, the thistles already lessati, to add the pepper, knows them, part of the cheese and the prezzemolo; to stir well all. To put the ingredients in a teglia and to level the surface. To pour in teglia the 700-800 cL of brodo vegetable or meat, to cospargere the surface with the cheese remained mixed to the grattato bread and to flavor with the oil. To cook in furnace pre-warmed to 200 °C, end when the surface is gilded
Cardi in umido con la salsiccia (ingredienti per 4 persone):
Questa è una ricetta che utilizza le foglie esterne, più dure, quando si è mangiato in pinzimonio il cuore del cardo. 80 g circa di salsiccia, coste esterne di un grosso cardo, passata di pomodoro 150 g, vino bianco, sale, paprica dolce.
Preparazione: tagliare a pezzi le coste di cardo, togliere i “fili” e lessarli per 15 minuti in acqua salata; scolare bene. Tagliare la salsiccia in pezzi di 6/7 cm e metterla a rosolare in tegame coperto, nel suo stesso grasso; eventualmente, aggiungere un cucchiaio di acqua per facilitare la sgrassatura, volendo buttare il grasso che resta, dopo che la salsiccia è diventata ben rosolata all’esterno. Sfumare poi con mezzo bicchiere di vino; dopo che è evaporato, versare la passata di pomodoro, salare e far prendere bollore. A questo punto, aggiungere i cardi lessati e proseguire la cottura a fuoco basso, per circa 20/25 minuti. A metà cottura, spolverare con un cucchiaino di paprica dolce. Servire accompagnando con abbondante quantità di fette di pane adatto alla scarpetta.
Spezzatino di tacchino con i “gobbi” (cardi)
Di solito è in questo periodo festa di San Martino, che si trovano al mercato i cardi, detti in dialetto “gobbi”. Come già ampiamente riferito, si ricorda che il nome deriva dal fatto che i cardi vengono cresciuti con una legatura, che appunto li ingobbisce, e senza prendere molta luce così rimangono bianchi il più possibile.
Ingredienti: 1 gobbo (cardo), spezzatino di tacchino circa 500-600 g, cipolla, sedano e carota, olio extra vergine d’oliva, sale.
Preparazione: si procede come per il normale spezzatino, facendo un soffritto di cipolla, sedano e carota. Nel frattempo sbollentare il gobbo (cardo) in abbondante acqua salata, dopo averlo pulito e tagliato a pezzi regolari. Una volta che è lessato scolare. Messa la carne di tacchino a rosolare in pentola, lasciar cuocere e sfumare con un pò di vino bianco. Aggiungere in seguito il gobbo lessato e terminare la cottura. Se il gobbo è bello grosso e avanza, si può anche gratinare o servire a parte condire con olio e prezzemolo.
Parmesan of Thistles
Ingredients: 1 kg of thistles to clearly of the usual refuse (25% of the gross weight are discarded), 80 g of butter, 1 glass of latte, 1 shaved spoon of double flour zero, 80 g of grated parmesan.
Preparazione: pulire l cardi privandoli delle foglie apicali e dei filamenti. Tagliare a segmenti di circa 10 cm di lunghezza e immergerli in una ciotola capiente colma di acqua acidulata con il succo di un limone. Scolare, tuffarli in acqua bollente e salata e farli cuocere per 5 minuti dalla ripresa del bollore. Sciogliere il burro in un tegamino a fuoco dolce e versarlo in una ciotola. Unire i cardi e mescolarli per bene in modo che si ungano con il burro. Sciogliere la farina in un bicchiere di latte freddo e poi versare il composto nella ciotola contenente i cardi mediante un colino da tè onde trattenere eventuali grumi. Mescolare ancora il tutto e disporre i cardi in una teglia imburrata a strati spolverando ogni strato con parmigiano grattugiato. Versare sul tutto il liquido avanzato nel fondo della ciotola e infornare a 200 gradi per 40 minuti.


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