Ontario Weeds: Jerusalem artichoke

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Excerpt from Publication 505, Ontario Weeds, Order this publication

Table of Contents

  1. Name
  2. Other Names
  3. Family
  4. General Description
  5. Stems and Roots
  6. Flowers and Fruit
  7. Habitat
  8. Similar Species
  9. Related Links
Name: Jerusalem artichoke, Helianthus tuberosus L.,

Other Names: Topinambour, Tuberous sunflower, hélianthe tubéreux.

Family: Composite or Aster Family (Compositae

General Description: Perennial, reproducing both by seed and by spreading, fleshy, underground tubers resembling slender potatoes.

Photos and Pictures

A. Top of flowering plant. B. Green shoots from sprouted tubers and young plants.
A. Top of flowering plant. B. Green shoots from sprouted tubers and young plants.

A, Dense stand of young plants in a cultivated field. B. Tubers.
A, Dense stand of young plants in a cultivated field. B. Tubers.

Jerusalem artichoke

Basal portion with 2 tubers, and upper part of a flowering plant.
Basal portion with 2 tubers, and upper part of a flowering plant.

Jerusalem artichoke flowers

Stems & Roots: Stems erect, 1 - 3 m (40 in. - 10 ft) high, with few branches except near the top or occasionally bushy-branched throughout; lower leaves opposite (2 per node), stalked, ovate or broadest near the roundish base and tapering towards the pointed tip (b), 10 - 25 cm (4 - 10 in.) long, somewhat toothed, harshly hairy on the upper surface but smooth or softly hairy on the lower surface, usually with 3 main veins from the tip of the leafstalk; middle leaves similar and either opposite or alternate (1 per node); upper leaves smaller and usually alternate but occasionally opposite.

Flowers & Fruit: Flower heads bright yellow, resembling the cultivated sunflower but smaller, 5-10 cm (2-4 in.) across; flower heads also resembling those of Black-eyed Susan but ray florets longer and more upright, and disk florets larger, not as crowded and yellowish rather than purplish to blackish; seeds similar to cultivated sunflower but somewhat smaller (about 3-4 mm, 1/8-1/6 in. long and only 1-2 mm, 1/25-1/12 in. wide). Flowers from August to late autumn.

Habitat: Jerusalem artichoke occurs in moist meadows and valleys in southern Ontario; it has occasionally been cultivated as an ornamental and for its edible tubers, persisting after cultivation in old gardens, and spreading to cultivated fields, fence lines and roadsides.

Similar Species: It is distinguished by its tall, erect stems producing numerous, fleshy tuberous roots like slender potatoes, its medium to large leaves broad near the base and harsh on the upper surface, and its bright yellow, sunflower-like flower heads.

Related Links

... on Jerusalem Artichoke (Order No.94-077)
... on general Weed topics
... on weed identification, order OMAFRA Publication 505: Ontario Weeds
... on weed control, order OMAFRA Publication 75: Guide To Weed Control

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For more information:
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E-mail: ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca
Author: OMAFRA Staff
Creation Date: 01 June 2000
Last Reviewed: 01 November 2003