Cynara is a genus of about 10 species of thistle-like perennial plants in the family Asteraceae, originally from the Mediterranean region, northwestern Africa, and the Canary Islands.
Cynara species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Angle Shades and Double-striped Pug.
Among the species in this genus are:
- Cynara cardunculus is the Cardoon or Artichoke thistle or Wild artichoke, in some places used as a food. It is a common source of a coagulant used as an alternative to rennet in the manufacture of cheese, with the advantage that the cheese is then fully suitable for vegetarians; many southern European cheeses are traditionally made in this way. The edible Globe Artichoke may be an ancient cultigen of this plant. As an introduced species in California and Australia, it is a major pest.
- Cynara humilis, a wild thistle of southern Europe and north Africa, traditionally used as a food by the Berbers. Like C. cardunculus, it can also be used in cheese-making.
- Cynara scolymus is the edible Globe Artichoke. It differs from C. cardunculus in that the leaf lobes and inner bracts of involucre are less spiny.
- Mabberley, D.J. 1987. The Plant Book. A portable dictionary of the higher plants. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. 706 p. ISBN 0-521-34060-8.
- Robbins, W.W., M. K. Bellue, and W. S. Ball. 1970. Weeds of California. State of California, Dept. of Agriculture. 547 p.