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Chives
Alliaceae
Allium schoenoprasum


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Type Categories Useful Parts

Herb



Alliaceae Family

Allium Genus

Location

Native to Europe, Asia, and North America

Physical Description
The chive is 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 leaves are hollow tubular, up to 50 cm long, and 2-3 mm in diameter, with a soft texture, although, prior to the emergence of a flower from a leaf, it may appear stiffer than usual. The flowers are pale purple, star-shaped with six tepals, 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 seeds are 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


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Alliaceae
Asparagales
Asparagales
Monocots
Monocots
One First-Leaves (Monocots)
Mesangiospermae
Mesangiospermae
Half Capsule Seed Division
Magnoliophyta
Magnoliophyta
Magnolia Division
Spermatophytes
Spermatophytes
Seed Plants
Euphyllophytina
Real Land Plants
Polysporangiates
Multiple Spore Sub-Kingdom
Stomatophytes
Stomatophytes
Air Pores Sub-Kingdom
Embryophytes
Embryophytes
Multicellular Land Plants
Streptobionta
Streptobionta
Multicellular Plants
Plantae
Plantae
Plants
Eukaryota
Eukaryota
Cells with a Nucleus


General Information

Chives have been cultivated in Europe since the Middle Ages, although signs of its usage date back to 5000 years ago

Chives were used in traditional folk medicine to treat intestinal parasites, enhance the immune system, stimulate digestion, and treat anemia.

Medicinal Uses: They are a great blood cleanser and for fighting fungal infections, mildew, and scab. All Alliums can be used for control of high blood pressure, but it takes a fairly large quantity, and the larger members of the Allium family are better sources than Chives for this purpose

The medical properties of chives are similar to those of garlic, but weaker; the faint effects in comparison with garlic are probably the main reason for its limited use as a medicinal herb. Containing numerous organisulplide compounds such as allyl sulfides and alkyl sulfoxides, chives have a beneficial effect on the circulatory system, acting upon it by lowering the blood pressure

In Chinese herbal medicine, garlic chives has long been used to treat fatigue, help control excessive bleeding, and as an antidote for ingested poisons. The leaves and bulbs are applied to insect bites, cuts, and wounds, while the seeds are used to treat kidney, liver, and digestive system problems.

Food Uses: Mainly used for culinary purposes. Culinary uses for chives involve shredding its leaves (straws) for use as condiment for fish, potatoes, and soup. Because of this, it is a common household herb, frequent in gardens as well as in grocery stores

Chives have a wide variety of culinary uses, such as in traditional dishes in France and Sweden, among others. In his 1806 book Attempt at a Flora (Försök til en flora), Retzius describes how chives are used with pancakes, soups, fish and sandwiches. It is also an ingredient of the gräddfil sauce served with the traditional herring dish served at Swedish midsummer celebrations. The flowers may also be used to garnish dishes.

Chives are one of the "fines herbes" of French cuisine, which also include tarragon, chervil and or parsley.

Other Notes: The Romans believed chives could relieve the pain from sunburn or a sore throat. They believed that eating chives would increase blood pressure and acted as a diuretic

Romanian Gypsies have used chives in fortune telling.

It was believed that bunches of dried chives hung around a house would ward off disease and evil

History tells us that Marco Polo discovered chives in his travels, and brought them back to Europe, and they have been used there every since

This member of the onion family was thought to have magical powers. It was believed that chives could drive away evil spirits and disease. Chives were hung in bundles in the home to protect the inhabitants.

Cultivation: Chives thrive in well drained soil, rich in organic matter, with a pH of 6-7 and full sun

Propagation: Chives can be grown from seed and mature in summer, or early the following spring. Typically, chives need to be germinated at a temperature of 15 °C to 20 °C and kept moist. They can also be planted under a cloche or germinated indoors in cooler climates, then planted out later. After at least four weeks, the young shoots should be ready to be planted out

Companion Planting: In companion planting, they are said to prevent scab when near apple trees, and when next to roses, black spot, also increase production of apple, carrot, and Rose. They reduce the reproduction of beans and peas

Retzius also describes how farmers would plant chives between the rocks making up the borders of their flowerbeds, to keep the plants free from pests (such as Japanese beetles). While the growing plant repels unwanted insect life, the juice of the leaves can be used for the same purpose; its flowers are attractive to bees, and it is sometimes kept to increase desired insect life





Chives
Prof. Dr. Otto Wilhelm Thomé Flora von Deutschland, Österreich und der Schweiz 1885, Gera, Germany [Image in Public Domain]

Comment: Chives, Allium schoenoprasum

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