Virginia Tech Weed Identification Guide

Jerusalem Artichoke: Helianthus tuberosus

Weed Description:  A troublesome perennial that resembles a sunflower and may reach as much as 10 feet in height.   Jerusalem artichoke is primarily a weed of pastures, hayfields, roadsides, noncrop areas, nurseries, and landscapes.  It is found throughout the eastern half of the United States and also along the Pacific coast.
Leaves: First true leaves are oppositely arranged and elliptic in outline.  Leaves are covered with short hairs and are 4 to 10 inches long and 1 1/2 to 5 inches wide.  Mature leaves become more lanceolate in outline and taper to a point.  All leaves have toothed margins and occur on petioles.  Upper leaves on the flowering stem are alternate unlike the lower leaves which are opposite.
jartichoke5-15.jpg (58670 bytes) Stems:  May reach 10 feet in height, are robust, and are covered with hairs.
Flowers:  Bright yellow, showy flower heads are produced at the ends of the stems.  Each flower head is approximately 2 inches in diameter and contains 8 to 20 outer yellow flowers (ray flowers) that enclose the dark yellow to brown disk flowers.

Fruit:  An achene that may reach 8 mm in length.

jartichoke5-15b.jpg (125691 bytes) Roots: Rhizomes that end in oval tubers that are relatively large and reddish in color.   Jerusalem artichoke is sometimes grown for its edible tubers.
Identifying Characteristics:   The robust stems, presence of tubers, and unique arrangement of leaves on the lower and upper portions of the plant are all characteristics that help to distinguish Jerusalem artichoke from most other weeds.  Common sunflower and many other Helianthus spp. are very similar in appearance to Jerusalem artichoke, however none of these other species have tubers like Jerusalem artichoke. jartichoke9-24.jpg (87798 bytes)