Scientific Name: Allium schoenoprasum
The herb Chives is a small, hardy, perennial in the onion family. It produces clumps of fine, hollow, dark green leaves from small bulbs. It bears clusters of very attractive, edible, pink or purple globe-shaped flowers. Chives need to be planted in rich soil and in full sun and need regular watering. Chives need to be lifted and divided every 3rd year.
The plant can be harvested continually, or even cut right back after flowering — after which it will grow out nicely again. Chives tend to attract the rust virus. If this occurs, cut back the affected growth and burn it. Do not place diseased plants on the compost heap.
Chives is a popular decorative herb for edging garden beds, and will also attract bees to the garden. It grows well in containers. Many people plant Chives around their roses to inhibit black spot.
The Chinese have used Chives for thousands of years. It is said that Marco Polo discovered them in China and took them to the West. Today Chives grows wild all over Europe, Australia, Asia and North America.
Parts that are used: The leaves and flowers
Chives is an excellent culinary herb. It has a mild onion flavour and should be used only in the last moments of cooking. Chives are used to flavour soups, stews, sauces, stir-fry, egg dishes, meat, fish and vegetables, either cooked or raw. Often used for garnishing. Chive leaves add a delicate onion flavour to salads and soft cheeses and the flowers add colour to herb vinegars and interest to salads. Tip: Chive leaves are hollow and cylindrical and can be cut into rings with scissors. Chive flowers are edible, have a mild onion flavour and are great in salads. Mix finely chopped Chives with sour cream and serve with baked potatoes.
In early days Chives were been used to staunch blood flow and it were an antidote for poison. Today we know Chives are high in vitamin C. They stimulate the appetite and aid digestion. Chives have numerous antibiotic, antiseptic and antibacterial properties, as do all onion-type plants. Modern research has confirmed that Chives are beneficial for keeping amoebic dysentery at bay. Chives help to reduce cholesterol. Chives have a beneficial effect on chest ailments, bladder and kidney infections and cleanse the blood and lower blood pressure.
Recipe for fighting coughs and colds:
- Slice a medium size onion and a handful of Chive leaves and flowers.
- Cover with brown sugar and leave to stand 4-6 hours in a covered container. (A screw-top glass bottle is best)
- Strain the juice off and take a teaspoonful every hour.
To soothe a sore throat: Add lemon juice to the above syrup and sip regularly till the problem is alleviated.