The Artichoke
Castroville, California is the Artichoke Center of the World   Pop: 7168  City Info: 831-647-7715

Photos © D. Stock  

Information below is supplied from: California Artichoke Advisory Board, P.O. Box 747  10719 Merritt Street  Castroville, CA 95012


One hundred percent of all artichokes grown commercially in the United States are grown in California.  Approximately 75 percent of the state's total acreage lies within Monterey County. And while artichokes were ranked only 11th in crop value for this agriculturally rich area, with an estimated worth more than $37 million, growers point proudly to the fact that the artichoke is the county's Official Vegetable. Stop at one of the artichoke restaurants and dine on farm fresh produce, including some of the biggest artichokes available on the planet!


Three fourths of the state's artichoke acreage is located near Castroville.  Two major artichoke packers are located here, along with the nation's only artichoke processing plant. Is it any wonder that the townspeople have proclaimed Castroville "The Artichoke Center of the World," and that they celebrate with the annual Artichoke Festival in May? 

WHAT IS AN ARTICHOKE? A native of the Mediterranean, the artichoke is a perennial in the thistle group of the sunflower (Compositae) family. In full growth, the plant spreads to cover an area about six feet in diameter and reaches a height of three to four feet. Its long, arching, deeply serrated leaves give the plant a fern-like appearance. The Green Globe cultivar accounts for essentially all the artichokes grown in this area. 

The "vegetable" that we eat is actually the plant's flower bud. If allowed to flower, the blossoms measure up to seven inches in diameter and are a beautiful violet-blue color. The size of the bud depends upon where it is located on the plant. The largest are "terminal" buds produced at the end of the long central stems. These are the ones you are most likely to see from the car during a springtime drive throughout the area. Buds are smaller lower on the stem. 

GROWING CONDITIONS The Green Globe artichoke prefers temperate climates--never too hot or cold. The central coast of California, where winters are relatively frost-free and summers are cool and moist with fog, is an ideal growing area. Here, too, are deep, fertile, well-drained soils which promote maximum root development.  Artichoke production happens year-round, but more than half of the crop is harvested between March and May. The fall crop generally peaks in October. 

GETTING TO THE HEART OF THE MATTER Most people cook the whole artichoke, and slip each leaf petal, one by one, through their teeth until they reach the delectable heart. Children love them because the get to eat artichokes with their fingers!  The artichoke is fun to eat, and it's good for you. One 12-ounce artichoke is a good source of vitamin C, folate and potassium. It's low in sodium, fat-free and a dieter's delight at only 25 calories.

California Events for festival dates or visit the official Artichoke Festival web site  Eat, drink and sleep artichokes. When you visit Castroville, there's even an Artichoke Inn.

Castroville's Mural  About Castroville




Castroville is located less than 100 miles from San Francisco and is less than three miles from the Pacific Ocean and public beaches.