The genetic affinities between the cultivated artichoke Cynara cardunculus L. var. scolymus (L.) Flori (= C. scolymus L.) and its wild relatives were tested by means of a crossing programme. The following wild taxa were involved: (i) wild cardoon C. carcundulus L. var. sylvestris (Lamk) Fiori, (ii) C. syriaca Boiss., (iii) C. cornigera Lindley, (iv) C. algarbiensis Cosson, (v) C. baetica (Spreng.) Pau (= C. alba Boiss.), and (vi) C. humilis L. Only the wild cardoon was found to be fully cross-compatible and fully infertile with the crop. In contrast, all other five wild Cynara species turned to be almost fully-or fully-cross-incompatible with the crop, and the few interspecific F1 hybrids recovered were partly or almost fully sterile. These finds establish the wild cardoon as the wild ancestor of the cultivated vegetable.
Cynara L.crossability and interfertility between the wild species and the cultivated artichoke