Spotted these plants while walking through a park in Brighton yesterday. I was struck by the huge size of the plant that towered above me. When I saw the buds I thought of artichokes. When I saw the blooms, that are about the size of my hand, it looked remarkably like a giant thistle. I discovered after some online investigation that it is a Cardoon bloom or Cynara cardunculus and is in fact edible.
Photo: Cardoon flower up close
Photo: Cardoon flower bud
Photo: Cardoon flower bud with ladybird
Photo: Cardoon flower side on