Helianthus tuberosus Jerusalem artichoke Asteraceae HETU*; Bx, pb (DeCandido 2001), wv (Yost et al. 1991); NY (DeCandido 2001); Q, j (Stalter and Lamont 2002; K (DeCandido 2001); R (DeCandido 2001);


Helianthus tuberosus.Clarence A. Rechenthin @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database

Helianthus tuberosus.Clarence A. Rechenthin @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database. (Accessed 4/2014).

Helianthus tuberosus is a perennial herb, colonial from rhizomes bearing ffleshy, irregular, white to reddish, edible tubers at their ends. New stems arise from tubers beginning in April or May; Stems hairy, stout, to 3 m tall, to 3 cm diameter, becoming woody, erect, often branching. 

Leaves alternate above, opposite on lower third of stem, stalk 2-8 cm long, winged, blade 10-25 cm long, 4-12 cm wide, broadly lance or egg-shaped, base contracted to winged stalk, surface thick, hard, dark green surface rough, hairy below, 3 major veins, margin toothed. 

Flowers yellow, rays 10-20, 2-4 cm long, disk 1.5-2.5 cm wide, basal bracts to 1.8 cm long, dark, loose, narrow, tips pointed; infflorescence branched, flower heads few, to 5 cm wide; obligate outcrosser, must be pollinated by a different population; blooms and fruits Aug.-Oct. 

Fruit 1-seeded achene, fflattened, wedge-shaped, to 0.8 cm long, 0.2 cm wide. Sets relatively few fertile seeds per plant (ca 50-100 per plant) (Swanton et al. 1992). 

Wetland status: FAC. 

Frequency in NYC: Infrequent. 

Origin: Native to eastern U.S. but apparently not native to NYS (Weldy et al. 2004); escaped from cultivation. 

Habitat: Moist habitats, river banks, soil pH 4-7, tolerant of drought, somewhat tolerant of shade, intolerant of salt (USDA, NRCS 2007). 

Notes: The storage carbohydrate is inulin, a long-chain polysaccharide of fructose, is apparently not digested by humans. However tubers are a good source of other nutrients and were grown for food by native Americans. Insects that attack H. tuberosus include: Strauzia longipennis, Diptera (sunflower stem maggot, a fly), Empoasca fabae, Homoptera, the potato leaf-hopper, and a weevil, Cosmobaris americana. Jerusalem artichoke is host to a number of fungi including; Erysiphe cichoracrarum Ascomycotina, a powdery mildew; Puccinia helianthi, Basidiomycotina, a rust; and Sclerotinia sclerotiorum, Ascomycotina, a watery soft-rot (Swanton et al. 1992; Agrios 1988; Borror and White 1970).