The many sides of Helianthus tuberosus —
Jerusalem artichoke, Helianthus tuberosus, is not from Jerusalem nor is it an artichoke! Some use the shorthand “sunchoke” as an alternate name; others simply call Helianthus tuberosus “sunroot,” and this is what I prefer. It’s a tuberous perennial sunflower in the Asteraceae family (or Compositae) native to eastern & central North America. It has been cultivated for centuries as a root crop by indigenous peoples and western farmers alike. To the Cree who lived beside Lake Superior, it was called askipaw, and to the Huron north of Lake Ontario it was called skibwan. Buffalo Bird Woman in interview with Gilbert Wilson (vol. 16, 1914) names the plant kakca or kaakca in Hidatsa. Other names for this plant in indigenous languages are pange (Omaha-Ponca), panhi (Winnebago), and kisu-sit (Pawnee). In Passamaquoddy-Maliseet the word for the tuber is ktahkitom (k’tAH-kee-tOM).