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Author: Hon A/Prof Marius Rademaker, Dermatologist, Hamilton, New Zealand, 1999.

Common name: Globe artichoke
Botanical name: Cynara scolymus
Family: Member of the Asteraceae (Compositae) family
Origin: It is widely cultivated in the Mediterranean.
Description: Large thistle-like flower heads (upto 15 cm) surrounded by fleshy bracts.

Uses: The buds are consumed as a vegetable. Also used for flower arranging. There is recent interest in a chemical extract of artichoke, silymarin (a flavanoid), as a possible cancer chemo-preventive agent.
Allergens: The allergen in artichoke is thought to be Cynaropicrin. It seems to be released from cut stems and roots.
Allergy: It is well recognised to cause hand dermatitis, particularly in pickers, market gardeners and flower arrangers. It is not known whether any of the allergen are found in the portion of the plant that is eaten, but there have been several reports of allergic rhinitis and asthma from ingested artichoke. Contact urticaria has also been reported following exposure to artichoke.
Cross reactions: Other members of the Asteraceae (Compositae) family.
Other information: Jerusalem artichoke is a different species (Helianhus tuberosus).
Patch test:  



  • Lovell CR.1993, Plants and the Skin, Blackwell, Oxford.
  • Mitchell JC, Rook A, 1979, Botanical Dermatology, Plants and Plant products injurious to the skin, Greengrass, Vancouver.
  • Botanical Dermatology Database. BODD
  • Quirce S, Tabar AI, Olaguibel JM, Cuevas M. Occupational contact urticaria syndrome caused by globe artichoke (Cynara scolymus). J Allergy Clin Immunol. 1996 Feb;97(2):710-1
  • Meding B. Allergic contact dermatitis from artichoke, Cynara scolymus. Contact Dermatitis. 1983 Jul;9(4):314.
  • Burry JN, Kuchel R, Reid JG, Kirk J. Australia bush dermatitis. Compositae dermatitis in South Australia. Med J Aust 1973; 1: 110-16.

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