Epineux argenté de Plainpalais

Crop: Cynara cardunculus L. subsp. cardunculus (Cardoon )

The "prickly silver from Plainpalais" is the name of this traditional Geneva variety. It probably originated around 200 years ago from a hybridization of the then "Cardon de Tours" variety. The fleshy leaf stems have strong spines. This makes the ‘Epineux argenté de Plainpalais’ more elaborate both in terms of culture and preparation. But it is considered to be the best culinary cardoon ever. Of the few regions in Europe that still produce cardoon, Geneva is the only one in which thorny cardoon is cultivated. "Cardon épineux genevois" is now a protected AOP label.

Cultivation System: ND.

Geographical Information

Country: Switzerland


Farmer(s) description:


Propagation system: Seed, cross-pollination

Multiplication procedures and consequences on landrace diversity:

Cardoon is a perennial, cross-pollinated herbaceous perennial which is always propagated by seeds. Crossbreeding with other cardoon varieties and artichokes is possible.

Management plan existence:


Added Values

Market - existing and novel:

Traditionally this variety is grown in the region of Geneva. In 2011 only seven farmers cultivated ‘Epineux argenté de Plainpalais’ in this region, harvesting between 100 and 130 tonnes per year. The harvest is mostly sold in the local market. Outside of Geneva this speciality is hardly known.

Others (e.g. commercial/geographical brands or special traits):

‘Epineux argenté de Plainpalais’ has been awarded and protected in 2003 with the designation of origin ‘Cardon épineux genevois AOP’ (Appellation d’Origine Protégéé). It is the only vegetable in Switzerland with the AOP label. Since its certification, the popularity of “Epineux argenté de Plainpalais” has increased not only within the Geneva region but throughout Switzerland. This cardoon variety has also been recognised as part of the ‘Culinary heritage of Switzerland’ (https://www.patrimoineculinaire.ch/Produkt/Cardon-de-Geneve-Cardon-epineux-genevois-AOP/110).