The artichoke has a colorful history. Not only does it look like a woman when cut in half but ancient Greek lore characterizes it as a young woman named Cynara.
Artichokes were popularized by Catherine de Medici, married to Henry II of France. She is reputed to have eaten copious amounts of them. Could have been that she wanted to give birth to a boy, something gleaned from ancient Greeks. Or it could have been for their aphrodisiac quality as they were believed to warm the genitals. She was considered absolutely scandalous as in 16th century Europe as only men were allowed to consume artichokes due to their presumed libido effect. Of course, Henry ate his share as well.
Although much is written about the fact that artichokes have long been considered powerful aphrodisiacs the scientific information is that they contain a large amount of potassium and sodium salt, things good for the cardiovascular system (the blood flow connection). There is also a sensuality of the act of eating artichokes. It's a finger food (sexy) and you have to pull the leaves through your mouth against your teeth to eat the flesh all the while sucking in a bit. However, I suspect the attribute exemplified in the above photo has something to do with making it one of the most recognized aphrodisiacs.