Artichokes are three types of vegetables. When unqualified, the term «artichoke» nearly always refers to the globe artichoke, of which the aboveground part is eaten, in contrast to the other two, where a root part is eaten.
The name in English originated from the Italian (northern dialect) word articiocco / arciciocco, from Old Spanish alacarchofa. The Spanish term was derived from the Arabic al-karshuuf, which designated the vegetable in the Moorish world.
The Globe artichoke (Cynara cardunculus var. scolymus L.) is a species of thistle. The edible part of the plant is the base (receptacle) of the artichoke head in bud, properly called a vegetable as it is harvested well before any fruit develops. With regard to America, it was first brought to California by Italians in the 1880s, and is farmed mostly in that state.
The Jerusalem artichoke Helianthus tuberosus is a species of sunflower. The edible part of the plant is the tuber.
The Chinese artichoke Stachys affinis is a species of woundwort. The edible part of the plant is the tuber.