Chives (Allium schoenoprasum)

Chives (Allium schoenoprasum) are the smallest species in the onion family Alliaceae, native to Europe, North America and Asia. Chives are grown for their leaves, used for culinary purposes as flavoring herbs, with a milder flavor compared to green onions.

Chive is a 30-50 cm tall, bulb-forming herbaceous perennial plant, growing in dense clusters from the roots. The dark green, hollow tubular leaves are up to 50 cm long, and 2-3 mm in diameter, with a soft texture, prior to the emergence of a flower from a leaf, may appear stiffer than usual. The flowers are pale purple, star-shaped with six tepals, produced in a dense florescence of 10-30 together. The seed is a small, three-valved capsule. Bees are attracted to the flowers, even though they are repulsive to insects in general, due to its sulfur compounds.

Chives are used in traditional dishes of France and Sweden. The flowers are sometimes used to garnish dishes. In Poland, chives are served with quark cheese. Chives is a readily available herb, found fresh at most market throughout the year. It can also be dry-frozen without losing its taste.

Chives have the same but weaker medicinal properties to those of garlic, the main reason for its limited used as a medicinal herb. They are rich in vitamins A and C, trace amount of sulfur, and high level of calcium and iron. Chives have a beneficial effect on the circulatory system. Chives are also noted for their ornamental value, the violet flowers are often used in dried flower arrangements.

Chives grows well in full sun and well-drained soil that are rich in organic matter. Propagation is by seeds or division. When harvesting, the stalks should be cut to the base. The plant will continually regrow leaves, allowing for a continuous harvest. The leaves can be used to repel unwanted insect life, while the juice of the leaves can fight fungal infection, mildew and scab.

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Seeds of ChivesSeeds of Chives
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The flower of a cultivated chives plantThe flower of a cultivated chives plant
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