Frank, artichokes grow in abundance, a few miles south of here. In Castroville there are enormous farms, where artichokes are grown commercially. These farms are part of the coastal scenery. Finding a stray cluster of plants growing wild along the road here in Portola Valley was a surprise.
To eat artichokes, one typically boils them with a little vinegar and perhaps some herbs, until they are tender. The leaves are often dipped in butter or mayonnaise when eaten.