Herb of the Week-Chives
Chives, botanical name Allium schoenoprasum, is basically edible onion. In fact, they are the tiniest onion species that are fit for eating. This is a perennially growing plant that is indigenous to Asia, Europe and North America. Interestingly, this edible onion is the only Allium species that is indigenous to the Old as well as the New Worlds.
This species has derived its name from two Greek terms - skhoinos (meaning sedge) and práson (denoting leek). The English name of this species - chives, has its origin in the French word ‘cive’, which again has been derived from the Latin word ‘cepa’ meaning onion.
Chives are a very common herb that is sold at grocery stores and also grown by many in their home gardens. The scapes (leafless flower stalks) and unopened young flower buds of this herb are used for culinary purposes, especially in soups, potato, fish and other preparations. These parts of the plants are chopped and used for adding flavour to these dishes. In addition, chives also possess insect-repellent attributes and may be used to control pests in gardens.
The flowers of Allium schoenoprasum comprise many florets and have resemblance to the globe. The chives flowers usually blossom during the period between April and May. The color of the florets may vary - white, light lavender, pink and some of them may also have a dark stripe in the middle. Each floret consists of several petals whose shape is lanceolate (lance-shaped) and/ or ovate and they are acutely pointed at the ends. The flower’s sheath comprises two or three flaps, which are wide-ovate and shorter compared to the flower. These sheaths may have a white or reddish hue. The perianth or the floral arrangement comprising the corolla and calyx, particularly when two whorls are merged, encircles the capsule akin to a balloon.