(Wild (Jerusalem) Artichoke)
Helianthus resinosus Small
Asteraceae (Composite Sunflower) Family
Plant is stout, tall and rough with many branches bearing golden-yellow flower heads. Preferred habitat is edge of pine woods, moist sites, bottomlands, waste areas, roadsides and well-drained slopes. Distribution is throughout the Escambia region.
The leaf of Resin Dot Sunflower is 4-10 inches long, egg-shaped to lance-like; thick and rough to the touch. Leaf margins have large scattered teeth. Most leaves are placed opposite on the lower stem, but alternate on the upper. A positive means of identifying the plant by its leaf is to look for three main veins that arise from the base at the leaf stalk. The leaf stalk may appear to have wings.
Flowers are medium to large in size, up to 3 inches broad. Ray flowers are usually few in number in the wild, but the domestic plant may have 15-20 bright yellow rays. Bracts supporting the flower head are narrow and spreading. Flowers occur August to October.
The true Wild (Jerusalem) Artichoke plant was cultivated by American Indians as a prized food source for its edible tuber, which is rich in nutritional values. Unlike potatoes, it contains no starch, but rather carbohydrates in a form that is metabolized into natural sugar. In 1805 Lewis and Clark depended heavily on the tubers as a food staple during their expeditions in what is now North Dakota. Today the domesticated tubers are sold in produce markets as health foods. The tubers are no longer taken from the wild as the domestic variety produces a more abundant crop. When boiled or roasted the small tuber may be eaten like a potato; eaten raw it has a sweet, nut-like flavor.