This article, by examining the genetic, iconographical, historical, and linguistic evidence, supports the argument that the cultivated artichoke (Cynara cardunculus L. var. scolymus (L.) Fiori) developed from the cardoon (C. cardunculus L. var. altilis DC) and that the artichoke was unknown in the Greco-Roman world and was most probably developed by Arab or Arab-Sicilian horticulturalists in the early medieval period——that is, between the seventh and tenth centuries A.D., probably in Sicily. The article considers genetic variability and the relationships between cultivars and wild taxa, as well as the problem of synonymy, the fact that a plant can take different names according to where it is cultivated. The article examines both classical Latin and medieval Arab and European writers who wrote about artichokes or cardoons and explores the linguistic problems associated with those plants' Arabic or Persian names.

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