13 NOVEMBER 1999, Page 46

Sun worshippers

From Mr Tom Thatcher Sir: I enjoyed the article on Jerusalem arti- chokes (Arts, 30 October): they are a stan- dard feature of game strips around here, and my son has a patch of them in a small garden plot. They are not bad to eat, but they will probably never set the world on fire and they really do have the unfortunate side effect mentioned.

Concerning the debate over the deriva- tion of their name, when I was knee-high to a grasshopper my late father told me that it comes directly from `gire-au-soleir —'turn- to-the-sun' — which I have always accepted without question. Apart from the fact that the adjectival phrase actually does sound like 'Jerusalem', this is exactly what they do, as do all members of the sunflower fam- ily, and most plants for that matter.

Tom Thatcher

Buxbury Farm, Sutton Mandeville, Salisbury, Wiltshire