Allium schoenoprasum

Is anyone else getting hungry for a baked potato? This plant is likely to be familiar to most, if not in the garden then surely in the kitchen. Allium schoenoprasum, or chives, is thought to be native to Asia, Europe, and North America. This distribution in both the old and new world is unique among allium species. Tufts of hollow tubular leaves grow 30-50 cm tall. Dense clusters of lavender to purple flowers are borne just above the leaves.

The mild-flavored leaves of this allium are used by peoples all around the world as a seasoning. While they contain the same chemical flavor constituents as garlic or onions, the milder chives will not overwhelm more subtle dishes. For more on culinary use, check out Gernot Katzer’s Spice Pages entry and Sandy Marie’s Herbal How To Guide page.

Allium schoenoprasum

9 responses to “Allium schoenoprasum”

  1. Troy Mullens

    Beautiful photo. Our garden chives have white flowers. Martha made a nice chopped relish the other day with cucumber, tomatoes, and chives with a little balsamic and s&p.

  2. Jera Phillips

    This makes me smile.
    It’s been one of my rites of spring for many years now, to make bread with the flowers of sage and chives kneaded into the dough. Just the flowers, mind, because the leaves still have enough sulfur compounds to slow the yeast down.

  3. dori

    Thanks for the ideas, Troy and Jera. Mine usually just look pretty until they don’t. By the time they bloom I am out of potatoes.
    I also have ornamental garlic. It has those little purple balls too. Could I use them the same way, in bread or relish?

  4. Connie

    Yes, all the Alliums can be eaten. Even the kind that grows in the grass.

  5. aljablan

    yES BUT SOME ARE LETHAL. For years I’ve been trying to find wild leeks or onions or garlic for they seem to have three names and most people call them leeks though I find their taste to be more garlicky but every time I find some herb or flower of the lily/snowdrop monocotlyledon family early in the spring at the same time as when the smeltrun in Lake Superior creeks the same thing happens as with mushrooms on which I have given up. I cannot identify any with confidence save berries neither wild onions nor mushrooms. Those can be lethal like lilies and snowdrops not to speak of medicinal herbs.
    What I do know is that some similar species are inedible others are lethal so it’s not worth the risk which is why nearly all botany and mushroom books advise against eating them. But I do have a bad habit of tasting anything including lichen buds grass treebark roots nearly all berries leaves shoots and practise catch and release when inadvertently catch crayfish clams salamanders or old boots or whiskey bottles.

  6. elizabeth a airhart

    i grew up with mothers chive plants in the window
    tomato soup& cream cheese with chives on ritz
    crackers on cold nights
    thank you fine photo

  7. irma in Sweden

    Oh lovely. Just planning to have my lunch with marinated heering and sour cream flavored with chives (both leaves and flowers).
    Out in the archipelago on the cliffs you will find the chives flowering in small pockets of soil and give the cliffs a purple haze

  8. CherriesWalks

    I am drying the flower heads to use in winter as colorful & tasty additions to sauces. Look terrific in herb butter too.

  9. Sunitha.V

    very informative for botany persons

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