Helianthus tuberosus L.

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English Jerusalem artichoke ISEIA: B2 – Watch List
Lëtzebuergesch Topinambur, Russesch Gromper 1 EASIN
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Deutsch Topinambur Wikispecies: Wikispecies - Helianthus tuberosus
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Report the species

Report Helianthus tuberosus to the National Museum of Natural History.

Brief description


Helianthus tuberosus between the Alzette river and a maize field near Cruchten (29/06/2016)

Helianthus tuberosus L. is a plant that prefers well-lit, sandy, moist and nutrient-rich soils. It grows best in habitats repeatedly disturbed by floods (riparian areas) but may also occur in ruderal and agricultural environments. In western European climatic conditions, the plant does not produce viable seeds and propagates vegetatively. Tubers and pieces of rhizomes are transported with rodents and flowing water, especially winter floods. The plant can produce dense and persistent monospecific populations along rivers, where it outcompetes native species, slows down natural colonisation by trees and favours river bank erosion. It can be a weed of agricultural fields either by invading the fields or by reducing the yield of consecutive crops.

Status and distribution in Luxembourg

Distribution map of Helianthus tuberosus L. in Luxembourg. Data source: Recorder-Lux, iNaturalist & GBIF, 2019-12-13.

“It seems that the introduction of this tuber, also originating from the New World, dates from the same period as the potato [~1725], and that by the middle of the last century [1750] its cultivation was proportionally more widespread than today” (Fischer 1860: 143; 1872: 77-78). But there may be a confusion of names, as potato cultivation was introduced in the 1720s under the name of topinambour or “ground pear” (De la Fontaine cit. in Fischer 1860: 143). 2

In 1741 the tithe (tax) was already raised on the Jerusalem artichoke (Ozeray 1827: 267).

In the middle of the 19th century, “Jerusalem artichokes[…] are so little cultivated in the Grand Duchy that the vast majority of farmers do not yet know its tubers. It is even regrettable that the resources that Jerusalem artichokes can offer in certain circumstances have not yet been fully appreciated” (Fischer 1860: 143). 3

Helianthus tuberosus was locally cultivated in Luxembourg throughout the 19th century (Löhr 1844: 126, Fischer 1872: 77), especially around Greisch and Ansembourg castle (Tinant 1836: 434). Krombach (1875: 331) states it is sometimes grown in sandy soils and then occurs also subspontaneously.

The first documented observation of the species in Luxembourg dates from 1880. On 21st October 1880, the Société de botanique collected a specimen from a garden in Dommeldange, north of Luxembourg City (Specimen nr. LUX003675, MNHNL 2000-). The first documented observation of the species in the wild dates from 1956. It was found by Léopold Reichling on 30th September 1956 in Born in the municipality of Mompach (MNHNL 2000-). There are 427 observations in the Recorder-Lux database (MNHNL, iNaturalist & GBIF 2019).

According to Lambinon & Verloove (2012: 720), it grows in banks, gravel and mud banks along watercourses, often in large stands, is naturalised in the Lorraine district (rivers Chiers, Moselle and tributaries (AR), but locally very abundant; elsewhere rare (R), subspontaneous or locally naturalised. Rarely cultivated in gardens, especially in the past, for its edible but generally not very appreciated tubers, nowadays sometimes in fallows, for feeding game.

The Jerusalem artichoke is widely distributed along the Lower Alzette, the Lower Sûre and the Moselle. Along the Alzette, important populations of the species often appear at the edge of corn fields.

Risk assessment

ISEIA protocol: B2 (2+3+2+2) = Watch List (Ries et al. 2013: 18).


  • Fischer, E., 1860. Notices historiques sur la situation agricole du grand-duché de Luxembourg. 2e édition, 254 p. Luxembourg : imprimerie Buck.
  • Fischer, E., 1872. Les plantes subspontanées et naturalisées de la flore du grand-duché de Luxembourg. Publications de l’Institut royal grand-ducal de Luxembourg, section des sciences naturelles et mathématiques XII: 1-115. Imprimerie V. Buck, Luxembourg.
  • Krippel, Y. & G. Colling, 2006. Notes floristiques. Observations faites au Luxembourg (2004-2005). Bull. Soc. Nat. luxemb. 107: 89-103. [PDF 288 Kb]
  • Krombach, J.-H.-G., 1875. Flore du grand-duché de Luxembourg. Plantes phanérogames. 564 p. Luxembourg, Imprimerie Joris.
  • Lambinon J. & F. Verloove, 2012. Nouvelle flore de la Belgique, du grand-duché de Luxembourg, du Nord de la France et des régions voisines. Sixième édition. Avec la collaboration de L. Delvosalle, B. Toussaint, D. Geerinck, I. Hoste, F. Van Rossum, B. Cornier, R. Schumacker, A. Vanderpoorten et H. Vannerom. Jardin botanique national de Belgique, Meise. CXXXIX + 1195 pp. ISBN : 9789072619884.
  • Löhr, M. J., 1844. Taschenbuch der Flora von Trier und Luxemburg : mit Beruücksichtigung der Nahe- und Glan-Gegenden. 319 S. Trier, Verlag C. Troschel.
  • MNHNL, 2000-. Helianthus tuberosus L. in Recorder-Lux, database on the natural heritage of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. Musée national d’histoire naturelle, Luxembourg. URL: https://mdata.mnhn.lu [Accessed 2019-09-05]
  • MNHNL, iNaturalist & GBIF, 2019. Helianthus tuberosus L. in MNHNL-mdata, online portal combining species observation from Recorder-Lux, iNaturalist and GBIF. National Museum of Natural History, Luxembourg. URL: https://mdata.mnhn.lu [Accessed 2019-09-05]
  • Ozeray, M.-J.-F., 1827. Histoire des pays, château et ville de Bouillon depuis l’origine du Duché jusqu’à la révolution de 1789. 348 p. Imprimerie J. Lamort, Luxembourg. (1e édition) [online source]
  • Pfeiffenschneider, M., P. Gräser & C. Ries, 2014. Distribution of selected neophytes along the main rivers of Luxembourg. Bull. Soc. Nat. luxemb. 115: 101-108. [PDF 3668 KB]
  • Ries, C., Y. Krippel, M. Pfeiffenschneider & S. Schneider, 2013. Environmental impact assessment and black, watch and alert list classification after the ISEIA Protocol of non-native vascular plant species in Luxembourg. Bull. Soc. Nat. luxemb. 114: 15-21. [PDF 652 KB]
  • Tinant, F. A., 1836. Flore luxembourgeoise, ou, Description des plantes phanérogames, recueillies et observées dans le grand-duché de Luxembourg, classées d’après le système sexuel de Linnée. 512 p. Luxembourg, J. P. Kuborn.

 Page content last updated on 2019-11-18. Last proofread by Caroline Grounds on 2019-11-18.