Chives: cultivation, properties and benefits of chives


In addition to being appreciated as an aromatic chives, it is also used as an ornamental plant thanks to its slender leaves and its characteristic inflorescences.We find it spontaneously in many parts of Italy, especially in humid areas rich in organic substance, up to 2500 meters above sea level. altitude.






: Angiosperms


: Monocotyledons











: Allium schoenoprasum

Common names

: Chives, Hungarian garlic, chives, thin leek, porraia onion, Provence herb


Chives, scientific name Allium schoenoprasum of the family Alliaceae, is a perennial, bulbous plant, frequent in humid places, native to the temperate-cold areas of Europe, Asia and North America.

It is a plant up to 25 cm tall that tends to form large bushes.It has an oval bulb wrapped in different brown-colored paper coats which when ripe is formed by numerous bulbils (cloves).

The leaves 3-4 in number per single plant are cylindrical in shape, hollow, hairless and sheathing the floral scape at the base. They are very aromatic and if cut they give off an aroma similar to that of onion or leek leaves. During the winter they dry up and then re-emerge with the arrival of the first heat.

The flowers form at the top of a single floral scape that rises in the center of the leaves and reaches a height of up to 40 cm. The flowers are hermaphroditic, of light pink to dark pink color and gathered in apical umbel-like inflorescences assuming a globular shape.

The fruit is a capsule that develops 1-2 seminerastri inside.

Note 1


Chives are rustic, undemanding and do not require special attention, and grows well in both sunny and lightly shaded areas.


It is a plant that should be watered abundantly especially in the summer, taking care not to leave water stagnation in the soil.


It grows well almost everywhere but prefers fresh, light, medium-textured, loose and well-draining soils.


Every year, towards the end of winter, a well-ripened organic fertilizer is planted which will be sufficient for the whole growing season.


The chives bloom from the month of May. If it is grown as an aromatic (therefore for the prevalent use of the leaves), it is preferable to eliminate the florets as soon as they are formed to prevent them from taking away excessive nutrients from the plant.


The multiplication can take place by seed but mainly by division of the plant, at the beginning of autumn, in October. The plant is removed from the ground and divided into 4-5 parts, each containing 4-5 bulbils, depending on the size of the mother plant and each portion is planted either in single pots or in the ground about 30 cm away from each other. other.


It is not particularly prone to parasitic attacks.


Chives, like all plants belonging to the allium genus, contain alliin, an odorless substance that, by the action of the enzyme alliinase, which is released by breaking the tissues, transforms alliin into allicin, a compound with a pungent scent. , the classic onion scent. Allicin is degraded with cooking.


The whole plant is used for chives: flowers, leaves and bulbils.

Note 2

In particular, the leaves are cut when they are fully developed, cutting them off at the base. On average, 3-4 cuts can be made per season. The plant will continue to regrow until the first colds arrive when the aerial part will wither and disappear throughout the winter to regrow with the arrival of summer.The repeated cutting of the leaves will ensure a good regrowth of the leaves themselves and will prevent flowering (if cultivated the plant only to use the leaves) which would take away aroma and strength from the leaves.

With drying, the leaves would lose all their aroma due to their watery consistency and their hollow, not very consistent structure. Therefore, they are used fresh as much as it is possible to freeze them even if they lose much of their aromatic and organoleptic characteristics.


The tissues of chives are rich in mineral salts (sulfur, calcium, phosphorus, iron and potassium), vitamins (group B, PP, A and C), flavonoids, carbohydrates, fibers, proteins, fats, organic sulfur compounds such as alliin and alliacin, glycolic acid, polyphenols and anthocyanins in flowers.

It has antioxidant, antiseptic and bactericidal properties and therefore can be used to make poultices to treat acne, insect bites, sunburn and cracking. It has also been shown that the extracts especially from the leaves have marked diuretic, vasodilating, hypotensive, antioxidant, antiscorbutic, expectorant, cardiotonic and stimulating, healing, digestive, laxative and carminative, emollient and revulsive properties.


All parts of the plant can be used from chives: leaves and bulbs. Flowers can also be used even if they are less aromatic than the other parts.

It has a very delicate aroma reminiscent of onion, but much less pungent and acrid and for this reason it is used for those particularly delicate dishes where the taste of garlic or onion would be excessive.

The leaves can be used as a complement in salads, to flavor soups, to flavor meat, to flavor soft cheeses and sauces. Generally, it is added to food at the end of cooking as, being the fabrics very delicate, it would not withstand prolonged cooking.

Often the leaves, given their elongated shape and thanks to their elasticity, are used to tie rolls.

Note 1


We are not sure of the etymology of the name Allium which was already used by the ancient Romans. It is thought that it may derive from Latin allium «garlic "whose origin is however unknown and only innumerable assumptions are made about it: according to some it derives from the Celtic annex "Hot, burning" in reference to acrid and pungent taste and smell; according to others from the Greek άλλεσθαι(set up) "Jump out" referring to the fact that the leaves, when they resume their growth with the arrival of summer, seem to jump out of the ground; according to others from the Greek άλέω (aleo) "To flee" referring to the repellent odor that is not pleasing to many animals, including man; according to others it derives from the Greek word άγλιθας (aglithas) term with which the Greeks called the garlic cloves.

The name of the species schoenoprasum it would derive from the Greek schoenos(σχοϊνος) "Rush" and πράσον (prasos) "leek" due to the fact that the leaves resemble those of the rushes and their aroma to that of the leek.

The common name chives it would seem to derive from the Latin cepulla, diminutive of cepa (onion) then "little onion".

In some regions chives are a protected species (Friuli Venezia Giulia, art.6 of Regional Law n ° 34 of 3 June 1981, Rules for the protection of nature and amendments to the regional law December 27, 1979, n. 78): it is allowed to collect 1kg of fresh edible parts per day.

Probably due to its aroma, it is considered from a magical point of view, a protective plant.


1) Image licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License
2) Image by Forest & Kim Starr licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License

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