Artichoke leaf derives from the common globe artichoke, a widely consumed vegetable cultivated by both the early Greeks and Romans. One of the oldest cultivated plants, artichoke is native to Southern Europe, North Africa and the Canary Islands. 1 Artichoke is a large herbacious perennial which produces a "globe" of edible leaves and a fleshy edible heart. The leaves of artichoke contain a primary compound known as cynarin, which among its other properties improves liver and gall bladder function, and lowers serum cholesterol. Artichoke has long been used as a digestive.