This is what an artichoke looks like when it somehow eludes the Chef's clippers and gets to flower. These delicious “vegetables” are nothing more than the large flowering buds of a thistle plant (Cynara scolymus). It is not uncommon in San Francisco to see them planted as ornamentals. I’m not sure if “pretty” is the right adjective; “interesting” is probably more like it. Personally, I prefer mine much younger, and served with a garlic aioli.