Chives (Allium schoenoprasum)

Chives: (herb) Tubular green leaves of a member of the onion family. Normally freeze-dried to protect fragile quality and vibrant green color. Rich in vitamins A and C, flavor is reminiscent of but more delicate than onion.

An herb which resembles hollow blades of grass, and the smallest member of the onion family. Chives have a mild onion flavor. Available as fresh or freeze-dried hollow stems. Delicate and peppery, mild onion flavor. Often snipped and sprinkled on food just before serving for seasoning. Use for potatoes, eggs, sauces, seafood and salads.

Chives are a bulb-forming herbaceous perennial plant, growing to 30–50 cm tall. The bulbs are slender, conical, 2–3 cm long and 1 cm broad, and grow in dense clusters from the roots. The scapes (or stems) are hollow and tubular, up to 50 cm long, and 2–3 mm in diameter, with a soft texture, although, prior to the emergence of a flower, they may appear stiffer than usual. The flowers are pale purple, and star-shaped with six petals, 1–2 cm wide, and produced in a dense inflorescence of 10-30 together; before opening, the inflorescence is surrounded by a papery bract. The seedsare produced in a small three-valved capsule, maturing in summer. The herb flowers from April to May in the southern parts of its habitat zones and in June in the northern parts.

Chives are the only species of Allium native to both the Old World and the New World. Sometimes, the plants found in North America are classified as A. schoenoprasum var. sibiricum, although this is disputed. Differences among specimens are significant. One example was found in northern Maine growing solitary, instead of in clumps, also exhibiting dingy grey flowers.

Although chives are repulsive to insects in general, due to their sulfur compounds, their flowers attract bees, and they are at times kept to increase desired insect life.

 

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