Practical ecological knowledge for the temperate reader.

Jerusalem Artichoke - Helianthus tuberosus

Family: Asteraceae (Aster family) [E-flora]


"Helianthus tuberosus is a PERENNIAL growing to 2.4 m (7ft) by 0.6 m (2ft in) at a fast rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 4 and is not frost tender. It is in flower in October, and the seeds ripen in November. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Bees, flies.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil. The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure." [PFAF]

Habitat/Range: "Eastern N. America - Nova Scotia to Minnesota and Kansas. Occasionally naturalized in Britain." [PFAF] "native in rich bottomlands and along streams, disturbed areas". [Weakley FSMAS]

Origin Status: Exotic [E-flora]

"Look-Alikes: These plants look like sunflowers, but have many small flowers rather than singular large ones. The fleshy, tuberlike roots can be dug up to confirm identification" [Lincoff TJF]

"There are five basic tuber types and a wide range of skin colors, from pure white, to red, purple, even brown. There are also discernible differences in flavor, but nearly all of the known varieties share in common a strong resemblance to the flavor of cooked artichokes, hence the name" [Katz EFC]

Edible Uses

"Tubers - raw or cooked[2, 46, 61, 95]. The tuber develops a pleasant sweetness during the winter, especially if subjected to frosts, and is then reasonably acceptable raw[K]. Otherwise it is generally best cooked, and can be used in all the ways that potatoes are used[K]."[PFAF] "Tubers palatable when cooked. The tubers (borne at the tip of horizontal rootstocks) are in the wild plant but an inch or two in diameter, but in cultivation they may be much large, as well as better flavored. They reach their maximum development in the autumn, when they may be taken up and stored in pits for winter use; or, since frost does not injure them, they may be left in the ground all winter, and dug in the spring." [Saunders] Cooked [Crawford FFFG] Raw or Cooked [ETWP] Edible [HuronSmith Zuni]

Flowers: "Flower reported edible" [EMNMPV.7]

Stalks (as source of inulin): "Jerusalem artichoke can also be used as a perennial sugar (fructose) crop by only harvesting the stalks for many years around the flowering time before the carbohydrate translocation to the tubers occurs (D’egidio et al. 1998). The possibility of exploiting the stalk of the plant, instead of the tuber, as a source of sugar was reported by Caserta and Cervigni (1991) using a late hybrid characterised by well-developed stalks and low production of tubers on marginal land. Glucosefree fructose production from Jerusalem artichoke inulin was achieved using recombinant inulinase-secreting strain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae in a one-step fermentation (Yu et al. 2011)." [EMNMPV.9]

Other Uses

Medicinal Uses

PFAF User Comments


"Fructans can be used in the food industry and in several nonfood industrial and medical applications, and Jerusalem artichoke accumulates fructans as storage reserves and is widely appreciated for its high fructans yield with low input techniques (Monti et al. 2005)." [EMNMPV.9] "Insulin as fructosan obtained commercially from Jerusalem artichoke tubers, Helianthus tuberosus, family Compositae or raw chicory is the best known prebiotics. Fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS) are increasingly used in food supplements and can have more long-lasting effect as they encourage the growth of Bifidobacteria already present in the gut. At least, 10 g FOS is needed daily." [Shah TPP]

"It is interesting that in the shoots of temperate-zone grasses and in the tubers of Jerusalem artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus), fructan synthesis accelerates under the low-temperature conditions of autumn. Then, the stored fructans become hydrolyzed through the action of fructan hydrolase in the spring, when temperatures warm and shoot and root growth begins. This appears to provide the plant with a source of energy for a head start on growth in the early spring." [T&F NPP]

Lectins: "Marcusson-Begun (1926) investigated the agglutinating principle of potato tubers and von Eisler and von Portheim (1926) found a hemagglutinin in tubers of a member of the Compositae (Asteraceae) family, Helianthus tuberosus" [Liener Lectins]


Antioxidant: "Tuber peel of tubers were found to contain relatively high levels of total phenolics (39–129 mg GAE/100 g FW) and exhibited high antioxidant capacity (98–296 mg ascorbic acid equivalents/100 g) (Seljåsen and Slimestad 2007). The level of total phenols was correlated to the antioxidant capacity. The flesh of tubers contained very low levels of phenols..." [EMNMPV.9]

Prebiotic/probiotic/synbiotic: "Studies with rats and in-vitro studies with bacteria isolated from the large intestine of man showed that inulin (a prebiotic) was almost completely metabolised in the large intestine where it provided a selective growth substrate for bifidobacteria (Hidaka et al. 1986; Wang and Gibson 1993)....Studies showed that Lactobacillus strains could be used for the fermentation of Jerusalem artichoke tuber juice (rich in the prebiotic inulin), which in fermented form could be used alone or mixed with other raw food material, as a new synbiotic functional food (Zalán et al. 2011)." [EMNMPV.9]

Antifungal: "The ethyl acetate leaf extract exerted the highest antifungal activity, with inhibitory rates of 77.91 %, 100 and 100 % against plant pathogens Rhizoctonia solani, Alternaria solani and Botrytis cinerea, respectively, at a concentration of 20 mg/ mL (Liu et al. 2007)." [EMNMPV.9]

Diuretic: "It has also been used as a diuretic according to Nickell.112" [HuronSmith Zuni]

Nutritional Information

"Cakes made with 5–10 % Jerusalem artichoke tuber powder (JAP) contained 10.4 and 23.7 mg inulin/g dm, respectively (Celik et al. 2013)." [EMNMPV.9] "This polyfructosan makes up more than 50% of the dry weight of the tubers (Akazawa, 1976)." [Seiger PSM]

"Gedrovica et al. (2011) reported that increasing the content of Jerusalem artichoke powder in pastry products like cakes, honey biscuits and butter biscuits substantially increased the content of non-starch polysaccharides. Non-starch polysaccharides (soluble and insoluble) constitute the main part of dietary fibre. They reported Jerusalem artichoke to be a good source of nonstarch polysaccharides/dietary fibre as it is rich in fibre, vitamins, minerals and fructans." [EMNMPV.9]

"The tuber can be used to produce a high-fructose syrup (70–80% fructose, 20–30% glucose)" [Cheryll_Williams]

"Wild and cultivated Jerusalem artichoke genotypes appear to contain adequate protein and macro- and micro-minerals to contribute significantly towards a nutritionally balanced diet (Seiler 1990)." [EMNMPV.9]

"proximate nutrient value of raw Jerusalem artichoke per 100 g edible portion was reported as water 78.01 g, energy 73kcla (304 kJ), protein 2 g, fat 0.01 g, ash 2.54 g, carbohydrate 17.44 g, total dietary fibre 1.6 g, total sugars 9.60 g, Ca 14 mg, Fe 3.40 mg, Mg 17 mg, P 78 mg, K 429 mg, Na 4 mg, Zn 0.12 mg, Cu 0.140 mg, Mn 10.0 mg, Se 0.7 μg, vitamin C 4 mg, thiamine 0.2 mg, riboflavin 0.06 mg, niacin 1.3 mg, pantothenic acid 0.397 mg, vitamin B6 0.077 mg, total folate 13 μg, total choline 30 mg, vitamin A (RAE) 1 μg, vitamin A 20 IU, β-carotene 12 μg, vitamin E (α-tocopherol 0.19 mg), vitamin K (phylloquinone) 0.1 μg, total monounsaturated fatty acids 0.004 g, 18:1 undifferentiated 0.004 g, total polyunsaturated fatty acids 0.001 g and 18:2 undifferentiated 0.001 g (USDA-ARS 2014)." [EMNMPV.9]

"The essential amino acids in H. tuberosus tuber (mg/100 g) were histidine 17 mg, isoleucine 29 mg, leucine 40, lysine 45, methionine +cystine 23 mg, phenylalanine +tyrosine 44 mg, threonine 29 mg and valine 33 mg. Potassium (21,615–26,251 mg/kg), phosphorus (2,585– 4,791 mg/kg), calcium (1,573–2,073 mg/kg) and magnesium contents were found at high levels in Jerusalem artichoke tubers growing in Konya provinces in Turkey (Harmankaya et al. 2012)."[EMNMPV.9]

Seed & Pericarp: 1000 seeds = 2 g. 26 % oil (petroleum ether) on dry wt. [LLCEOPS]


"The plants are a good source of biomass. A fast-growing plant, Jerusalem artichokes can be grown as a temporary summer screen[200]. Very temporary, it is July before they reach a reasonable height and by October they are dying down[K]." [PFAF]

"Although a temperate species, H. tuberosus tolerates sub-zero to hot temperatures (Duke 1983). Most Jerusalem artichoke cultivars require average annual temperatures of between 6 and 26 °C, within a growing season of at least 125 frost-free days (Cosgrove et al. 2000; Duke 1983). Jerusalem artichoke grows under different pedoclimatic conditions and shows good tolerance to frost, drought and other adverse conditions, as well as resistance to pests and diseases (Slimestad et al. 2010). H. tuberosus tubers can withstand freezing for months even if the frost kills the stems and leaves (Duke 1983)." [EMNMPV.9]

"Jerusalem artichoke thrives in a wide range of soil types and pH levels, but production is favoured by slightly alkaline soils with optimal pH in the range of 4.5–8.6 (Duke 1983; Kosaric et al. 1984). It does best in friable, moderately well-drained soil in full sun to partial shade."[EMNMPV.9]

"Annual harvesting invigorates the plants and leads to higher yields." [Jacke EFG] "The Jerusalem artichoke has been hybridized with the sunflower to yield the Sunchoke, which is high in sugar and may eventually serve as a commercial source for sugar." [Katz EFC]

Biogas: "Anaerobic digestion experiments showed that fresh and ensiled above-ground parts of the plant could produce 480–680 l biogas per kg organic material (Gunnarson et al. 1985). Their results confirmed that economic biogas production from above-ground parts of Jerusalem artichoke was possible under certain conditions. Jerusalem artichoke also has a great deal of unused potential as a producer of ethanol for fuel, using inulin- adapted strains of yeast for fermentation. Jerusalem artichoke tubers have been reported to have one of the highest carbohydrate yields of known agricultural crops ranging between 2,400 and 900 kg sugars per acre/year which is equivalent to about 1,000– 2,400 kg ethanol/acre/year assuming an ethanol yield of 80 % of the theoretical (Margaritis et al. 1981).... Studies by Cheng et al. (2009) showed that it was feasible to produce biodiesel from Jerusalem artichoke tuber using heterotrophic microalga Chlorella protothecoides. Lipids produced could be converted into biodiesel by transesterification." [EMNMPV.9]

Remediation: "In pot experiment studies, Jerusalem artichoke was found to remove heavy metals Cd, Pd, Ni, Cu and Zn from heavy metal-contaminated soils and accumulating them in the plant (Jasiewicz and Antonkiewicz 2002)." [EMNMPV.9] "Helianthus tuberosus CYP76B1 and soybean (Glycine max (L) Merr.) CYP71A10 were the first plant enzymes shown to actively metabolize a herbicide (Robineau et al. 1998; Siminszky et al. 1999)." [Dhir PRAPECU] "Specific isoforms metabolizing phenylurea herbicides have been isolated from Jerusalem artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus)...." [Schnoor PTCC]

Propagation: "Jerusalem artichoke is propagated by tubers, and planting is usually done in the spring" [EMNMPV.9]

Associated Species: "As early as 1883, Roze, a Frenchman, reported outdoor cultivation of Morchella in association with jerusalem artichokes (Helianthus tuberosus)." [Leatham FIM]

Rhizobacterial Association: "Zubek and Blaszkowski (2009) and Zubek et al. (2011) studied AM fungi and dark septate endophyte (DSE) associations in 36 medicinal plant species from 33 genera and 17 families. AM was found in 34 of 36 plant species, and the abundance of AM fungi hyphae in roots varied with particular species, ranging from 2.5 % (Helianthus tuberosus) to 77.9 % (Convallaria majalis)." [SoilBio-42]

Plant Growth Regulator Activity: "Heliangin (102) from Helianthus tuberosus also is known to be an antagonist in the Avena coleoptile test." [Seiger PSM]


Page last modified on Sunday, January 2, 2022 9:11 PM