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Allium schoenoprasum L.


KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassLiliopsidaMonocots (plants with a single seed leaf); includes the lily family
SubclassLiliidaeIncludes lilies, orchids, and many others
OrderAsparagalesA diverse group that includes asparagus
FamilyAmaryllidaceaeAmaryllis family—plants that grow from bulbs. Includes onions and many others
GenusAlliumOnions, leeks, shallots, garlic, scallions, etc.
SpeciesschoenoprasumSchoenos from schoinos, a rush, reed; prason for “leek”

About plant names...

Chives are native to temperate regions around the world. Their cultivation dates back 5,000 years, though wild chives are also edible, and may even pop up in your lawn.

Identification: Plants are 8-20″ (20-50 cm) tall, composed of clusters of erect, round, hollow leaves, 1/32-¼″ (1-7 mm) thick. Sometimes the tubular leaves are unevenly curled. The clear odor of onions in a crushed leaf is a sure indicator. Flowers are globe- or dome-shaped, composed of many small tubes, pale to deep purple-pink in color. Each flowerhead has up to 30 tiny flowers. Fruits are three-lobed capsules.

Edibility: Chives are a popular culinary herb used for centuries, valued for the mild onion flavor of its leaves. Flowers and roots are also edible. There are other plants with tubular, hollow leaves, but any plant that smells like onion or garlic is edible. The tender shoots taste best. Older woody stalks won't do you any harm, but they don't taste as good. (Consumption of large quantities of chives by some animals, especially dogs, may result in poisoning. But I have never seen a dog pay any attention at all to chives.)

Allium schoenoprasum (chive)

Allium schoenoprasum (a) and Allium cepa (b).

Online References:

Montana Plant Life


Plants for a Future, a resource and information centre for edible and otherwise useful plants



Allium schoenoprasum (chive)

4/11/2011 · Susan and Raimond’s, Phoenix, Mary­land


Allium schoenoprasum description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 14 Sep 2023.

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Allium schoenoprasum (chive)

3/2/2011 · North Central Railroad Trail, Gunpowder Falls State Park, Baltimore, Mary­land · ≈ 11 × 7″ (27 × 18 cm)

Allium schoenoprasum (chive)

5/5/2010 · Tom and Susan’s, Pepperell, Mass­a­chu­setts · ≈ 9 × 14″ (23 × 35 cm)

Allium schoenoprasum (chive)

4/7/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton, Mass­a­chu­setts · ≈ 14 × 9″ (35 × 23 cm)

Allium schoenoprasum (chive)

5/6/2016 · Long Cove Cottages, Tenant’s Harbor, Maine

Allium schoenoprasum (chive)

5/27/2010 · Tom and Susan’s, Pepperell, Mass­a­chu­setts · ≈ 5 × 3½″ (13 × 9.2 cm)

Range: Zones 4-8:

About this map...