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Nutrition Basics


(Allium Schoenoprasum)

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  • Chives Herbal Description
  • Chives Uses, Health Benefits & Scientific Evidence
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  • chives flowers


    The Chive (Allium Schoenoprasum) is the smallest species of the edible onion family. A perennial plant, it is native to Asia, Europe, and North America. This is the only species of Allium native to both the New and Old Worlds. The species name is derived from the Greek meaning "sedge leek". Its English name, Chives, is derived from the French word "cive", from the Latin word for onion cepa. Chives have been used both medicinally and as a culinary ingredient for 5000 years, but not actively cultivated until the Middle Ages.

    chives cut with scissors

    Chives are a commonly used herb and can be found in grocery stores or grown in home gardens. In culinary use, the scapes and the unopened, immature flower buds are diced and used as an ingredient for fish, potatoes, soups, and other dishes. Chives have insect-repelling properties that can be used in gardens to control pests.

    Chives are a bulb-forming herbaceous perennial plant, growing from 12 to 20-inches tall. The bulbs are slender, conical, 3/4 to 1.25-inches long and 1/2-inch broad, and grow in dense clusters from the roots. The scapes (or stems) are hollow and tubular, up to 20-inches long and 1/16 to 1/8-inch across, with a soft texture, although, prior to the emergence of a flower, they may appear stiffer than usual. The leaves, which are shorter than the scapes, are also hollow and tubular, or terete, (round in cross-section) which distinguishes it at a glance from Garlic Chives. The flowers are pale purple, and star-shaped with six petals, 1/2 to 3/4-inch wide, and produced in a dense inflorescence of 10 to 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.

    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.


    Chives have been cultivated in Europe since the Middle Ages (5th until the 15th centuries), although their usage dates back 5000 years. They were sometimes referred to as "rush leeks". The Romans believed Chives could relieve the pain from sunburn or a sore throat. They believed eating Chives could increase blood pressure and act 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.


    Chives are cultivated both for their culinary uses and their ornamental value; the violet flowers are often used in ornamental dry bouquets. Chives thrive just about anywhere. Allot a small patch of your backyard garden to growing Chives, or grow them on a sunny window sill. Chives make a unique and special addition to regular meals as well as fast food. When growing Chives, you can choose from several varieties, the main ones being:
    • Common Garden Onion Chive (Allium schoenoprasum), which have a taste similar to mild onions. They have tubular leaves and pink flowers.
    • Chinese or Garlic chives (Allium tuberosum) which have a garlic-like flavor and have flat leaves with white flowers.

    onion chives and garlic chives

    Chives being hardy members of the onion family can survive and thrive growing in any soil provided it is well-drained and has a pH range between 6.0 and 7.0. Chives prefer full sun. To ensure successful planting however, it is recommended you prepare your soil a few weeks before planting. This can be done by preparing a large amount of rotten compost material and mixing it in with the soil covering the patch you intend to sow. Adding bonemeal to this mixture is also a great idea as it helps create ideal soil conditions. Make use of approximately 1 to 2 cups of bonemeal for every square yard to ensure optimum results. Check to make sure the soil is moist prior to planting the seeds. Water the soil if you find it to be too dry.

    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 60 to 70°F 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. They are also easily propagated by division. You can use both seeds and bulbs to grow chives. It is a better idea to use bulbs if you want to get them off to a head start. Take a bunch of about five bulbs and plant them at a distance of 4-inches from each other so that the tips are level with the ground surface. You can grow them in rows in your garden or in flower pots indoors on a window sill.

    Once you have prepared the soil prior to planting the seeds or bulbs, you will not need to do much more to maintain the plants or adding nutrition to the soil. Chives are a low maintenance herb. Just make sure to keep the surrounding space clean of weeds which can spring up very quickly. Add water whenever you notice the soil is drying out too deeply. If Chives get too waterlogged, this can be a problem and rot the roots and bulb causing the leaves to wilt and go yellow.

    In cold regions, Chives die back to the underground bulbs in winter, with the new leaves appearing in early spring. Chives starting to look old can be cut back to about 1 to 2 inches from the soil. Before harvesting, wait until the Chives grow several inches and then keep harvesting the parts as when required. When harvesting, the needed number of stalks should be cut to about 2-inches from the base starting with the outermost edges and working inward. Use a pair of scissors to cut the Chive leaves. Do not harvest all the leaves in one harvesting. Leaving about 2-inches of leaf growth from the base will allow the plant to grow back, continuously regrowing leaves for a continous harvest.


  • Chives are always determined to flower and you must be just as determined to stop this, at least to some extent. You want the growing energy to go into leaves not flowers, but the flowers are sweet and the bees love them. Snip off most flowers and leave the odd one or two, or alternatively try a clump or two of growing Chives elsewhere for ornamental use and to attract bees.

  • Sometimes with growing Chives, you may find the plant drying up and looking a bit weak. All you need to do is cut the leaves a little and trim off all dead stalks. This will rejuvenate the plant which will soon start putting out new leaves.

  • Also if you are in a temperate or cold climate, make sure to cut the leaves and any flower stalks right down to about an inch or so from ground level at the beginning or middle of winter. In early spring, feed and divide and replant if necessary and your Chives will produce lovely fat new leaves.

  • If you are growing Chives in warmer areas, your plants will keep producing all year round as long as you feed them and occasionally divide the clumps. Giving the plants a trim now and then also helps keep them growing through the years.

  • If you desire to increase the size of your Chive patch, simply dig out a clump until it is free of the soil. You will find multiple bulbs clumped together. Just separate them and plant each bulb separately or a small group of bulbs in a new spot. They will soon begin to thrive on their own.

  • Chives are just about disease free and the only pests of any problem are thrips. These can start off as one or two, but be careful as overnight they explode into a mass chive feast. They look like small black aphids, and like aphids these thrips will suck the sap from your Chive leaves and ultimately kill the plant. Rub the first few thrips off with your fingers and you will usually fix the problem, but if not, give them an organic spray or use a garlic spray as a means of organic pest control.

  • chives flowering buds



    Chives are grown for their scapes, which are used for culinary purposes as a flavoring herb, and provide a somewhat milder flavor than those of other Allium species. 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, Retzius describes how chives are used with pancakes, soups, fish and sandwiches. They are also an ingredient of the graddfil sauce served with the traditional herring dish served at Swedish midsummer celebrations. The flowers may also be used to garnish dishes. In Poland, Chives are served with quark cheese.

    Chives are one of the "fines herbes" of French cuisine, which also include Tarragon, Chervil and/or Parsley. Chives can be found fresh at most markets year-round, making them readily available; they can also be dry-frozen without much impairment to the taste, giving home growers the opportunity to store large quantities harvested from their own gardens.

    Dried chives do not have as strong a taste as fresh, and so more must be used. Chives are a great improvement to salads - cut fresh and chopped fine-and may be put not only into green salads, but also into cucumber salad, or sprinkled on sliced tomatoes. Chives are also excellent in savory omelettes, and may be chopped and boiled with potatoes that are to be mashed, or chopped fresh and sprinkled, just before serving, on mashed potatoes, both as a garnish and flavoring. They may also be put into soup, either dried, or freshly cut and finely chopped, and are a welcome improvement to homemade sausages, croquettes, etc., as well as an excellent addition to beefsteak puddings and pies.


    Plant Chives between the rocks or bricks making up the borders of the flowerbeds, to keep the plants free from pests (such as Japanese beetles). The growing plant repels unwanted insect life, and the juice of the leaves can be used for the same purpose, as well as fighting fungal infections, mildew and scab. Chive flowers are attractive to bees, which are important for gardens with an abundance of plants in need of pollination.


    The medicinal properties of Chives are similar to those of garlic, but weaker; the faint effects in comparison with garlic are probably the main reason for their limited use as a medicinal herb. Containing numerous organosulfur compounds such as allyl sulfides and alkyl sulfoxides, Chives are reported to have a beneficial effect on the circulatory system. They also have mild stimulant, diuretic, and antiseptic properties. As Chives are usually served in small amounts and never as the main dish, negative effects are rarely encountered, although digestive problems may occur following overconsumption.


    Chives are also rich in vitamins A and C, contain trace amounts of sulfur, and are rich in calcium and iron.


    Nutrition Value Per 100 Grams (3.5 Ounces)
    (Source: USDA National Nutrient Data Base)
    Nutrient Value
    Percentage of RDA
         Energy      30 Kcal (126 kJ)      
         Carbohydrates      4.35 g      
         Protein      3.27 g      
         Total Fat      0.73 g      
         Sugars      1.85 g      
         Dietary Fiber      2.5 g      
    Nutrient Value
    Percentage of RDA
         Vitamin A Equivalent      218 µg      27%
         Beta Carotene      261.2 µg      24%
         Lutein & Zeaxanthin      323 µg      
         Thiamin (B-1)      0.078 mg      7%
         Riboflavin (B-2)      0.115mg      10%
         Niacin (B-3)      0.647 mg      4%
         Pantothenic Acid (B-5)      0.324 mg      6%
         Vitamin B-6      0.138 mg      11%
         Folates (B-9)      105 µg      26%
         Vitamin C      58.1 mg      70%
         Vitamin E      0.21 mg      1%
         Vitamin K      212.7 µg      203%
    Nutrient Value
    Percentage of RDA
         Sodium       -       -
         Potassium      296 mg      6%
    Nutrient Value
    Percentage of RDA
         Calcium      92 mg      9%
         Iron      1.6 mg      12%
         Magnesium      42 mg      12%
         Manganese      0.373 mg      18%
         Phosphorus      58 mg      8%
         Zinc      0.56 mg      6%
    µg = Micrograms
    mg = Milligrams
    IU = International Units

    Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.
    Source: USDA Nutrient Database

    cut or chopped chives rings


    Chive's constituents are Alanine, allyl-mercaptan, beta-carotene, caffeic acid, citric acid, ferulic acid, glutamic acid, glycine, histidine, Isoleucine, kaempferol, malic acid, methionine, niacin, octacosanol, quercetin, thiamine, vitamin C. The parts used are the fresh or dried leaf stems, chopped.

    Chives can be used to make herbal teas, but more often Chives are used in cooking.


    No precautions.


  • Chives Herbal Products



    Chives are perfect sprinkled on top of a baked potato or added to baked scalloped potatoes or potato salad. In addition to potato recipes, Chives can be used in a variety of savory dishes. Chives have a mild onion-like flavor and scent. Pan-fried or grilled fish, in addition to smoked salmon or tilapia, can have a jolt of taste added by the simple addition of a butter sauce to which the herb has been added. It can be added to biscuit batter for a piquant flavor. Chicken benefits from this zesty herb, as does a fresh tomato salad with a veined blue cheese. Tartar sauce sings when this onion relative is added, as do chickpea salads. It may help to stimulate the appetite and digestive processes as well.


    Mountain Rose Herbs: Chive Rings (Allium Schoenoprasum), Certified Organic, Bulk Organic Herbs & Spices


    Starwest Botanicals: Chives, Cut & Sifted, Organic, 1 lb.


    HerbsPro: Spinach Chive Herbal Tea, Numi Tea, 12 Tea Bags


    TakeHerb: Chives, Freeze Dried Chopped, The Spice Hunter, 0.13 oz. Jar
    TakeHerb: Chives, Freeze Dried, Fresh At Hand Jar, The Spice Hunter, 0.26 oz. Jar
    TakeHerb: Chinese Chive Seed (Jiu Cai Zi), E-Fong, 100 Grams


    Kalyx: Chives (Allium schoenoprasum), Cut & Sifted, Freeze-Dried, Frontier, 0.08 oz. Jar: K
    Kalyx: Chives (Allium schoenoprasum), Cut & Sifted, Organic, Starwest Botanicals, 1/2 lb: C
    Kalyx: Chives (Allium schoenoprasum), Cut & Sifted, Organic, Frontier, 1/2 lb: K
    Kalyx: Chives (Allium schoenoprasum), Cut & Sifted, Organic, Starwest Botanicals, 1 lb: C
    Kalyx: Chives (Allium schoenoprasum), Cut & Sifted, Starwest Botanicals, 1 lb: C
    Kalyx: Chives Flakes (Allium schoenoprasum), Frontier, 1 lb: K
    Kalyx: Chives, Dutch Valley, 1 lb: GR
    Kalyx: Chives, Dutch Valley, 1 lb: GR
    Chives are the bright green, long, hollow thin leaves of an onion-like plant of the lily family. Chives have a mild, onion-like flavor, with a hint of garlic and are often used as a garnish. Eachcase consists of one pound.
    Kalyx: Chives Powder, Kalyx, 1 kg (2.2 lbs.): EB
    Kalyx: Chives, Van De Vries Spice, 11 lbs: GR
    Chives are the bright green, long, hollow thin leaves of an onion-like plant of the lily family. Chives have a mild, onion-like flavor, with a hint of garlic and are often used as a garnish. Eachcase consists of eleven pounds.
    Kalyx: Chive Flakes, Frontier, 25 lbs: K
    Kalyx: Chinese Chive Seed 5:1 Extract Powder (Allium Tuberosum; Jiu Cai Zi), NuHerbs, 100 Grams: TC
    Kalyx: Chinese Chive Seed (Allium Tuberosum; Jiu Cai Zi), NuHerbs, Cut & Sifted, 1 lb: TC


    Amazon: Chives Herbal Grocery & Gourmet Food Products
    Amazon: Chives Herbal Products
    Amazon: Chinese Chives Garden Seed Products
    Amazon: Chives Garden Seed Products

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