Jerusalem Artichoke

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Topinambur (click to enlarge): (A) young plants; (B) The Flower of Jerusalem artichoke; (C) Several unprocessed rhizomes of Helianthus tuberosus (Jerusalem artichoke); (D) Jerusalem Artichokes stir-fried with chicken and fermented beancurd.
Jerusalem Artichokes: This “weed” looks like a bumpy potato and is related to the sunflower (the energy goes to the root more than the seeds in this case). They produce terrific amount of flatulence for most consumers. (They are composed of an indigestible inulin; this side effect can be remedied by (a.) harvesting in the spring–the cold of winter helps convert the inulin into a more digestible form. (b.) cooking with ginger or other “digesting-aid” herbs (c.) cooking them well– i.e. if you have a delicate digestive track, do not eat them raw!). Despite its rustic nature, it turns out to be a very valuable crop.

Jerusalem Artichokes are not artichokes at all but rather a type of sunflower. The name is a misnomer that apparently happened because of the name "girasole" (ital. = sunflower). Synonyms include "sunchokes" (US), sunroot and topinambur. They grow carbohydrate-rich roots and are therefore very interesting as a crop for bioenergy (ethanol, i.e. Fuel Alcohol) and as fodder.


Quoting from OSE blog (see link below): "They produce terrific amount of flatulence for most consumers." This is due to large amounts of indigestible fiber.

Excalibur Drying Jerusalem Artichokes


Because of these "issues" relating to high inulin content, lacto-fermentation has been tried, and apparently can reduce this effect and enhance the nutritional value. Here are some reports.

Animal Feed Supplement

Inulin is a potentially very useful dietary adjunct ("prebiotic") for farm animals to try to influence their intestinal microflora. Please see this open-access paper for more information.


  • Alcohol can be a gas! (tubers)
  • food and fodder (tubers)
  • Medicinal (tubers, see above)
  • silage (green parts)
  • ornamental (flowers)