The artichoke is a perennial plant and is harvested during the last two summer months (July to August). The edible portion of the plant consists of the flower buds before the flowers come into bloom and can be eaten either raw or cooked. Artichoke leaves can be used as animal feed. In Messinia and especially in the area of Thouria, there is the local wild artichoke variety ‘Mikromani’. At the village from which this wild variety has taken its name a festival takes place every year during which local delicacies based on artichokes are offered to the visitors.
The edible part (flower bud) of the artichoke is rich in carbohydrates and has high water content. Artichokes contain vitamins A and C, which protect the cells from free radicals and contribute to healthy eyes and bones, and strengthen the immune system, as well as vitamin K, which plays a major role in blood clotting. In regards to minerals and trace elements, artichokes are high in potassium, phosphorus and magnesium. Finally, all parts of the plant have cynarin, which can aid in liver problems and constipation.