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Chive (Allium schoenoprasum L.)


Arabicثوم معمر, ورق بصل
ثُومٌ مُعَمَّر, وَرَق بَصَل
Thoum Muammar, Waraq basal
ArmenianՄանր սոխ
Manr sokh, Manr sox
BasquePorru tipula, Tipulinak
BelarusianЦыбуля скарада, Цыбуля-рэзанец, Цыбуля-шніт
Cybuĺia skarada, Cybuĺia-rezanec, Cybuĺia-shnit
Bengaliপেঁয়াজ কলি
Pianj koli
BretonRaksivolez, Ognonetez
BulgarianДив чесън, Лук сибирски
Div chesun, Luk sibirski
CatalanAll junciforme
韭菜 [gáu choi], 蝦夷蔥 [hà yíh chùng], 細香蔥 [sai hēung chùng]
Gau choi, Ha yih chung, Sai heung chung
韭菜 [jiǔ cài], 蝦夷蔥 [xiā yí cōng], 細香蔥 [xì xiāng cōng]
Jiu cai, Xia yi cong, Xi xiang cong
CroatianLuk vlasac
CzechPažitka, Šnytlík, Šnitlink
FinnishRuoholaukka, Ruohosipuli
FrenchCivette, Ciboulette
GaelicCraobh gharbh, Feuran
GreekΠράσο, Σχινόπρασο
Praso, Schinopraso
Hebrewעירית בצל
עִירִית בָּצָל
Irit bazal, Eerit batsal
HungarianMetélőhagyma, Snidling
ItalianErba cipollina, Aglio ungherese
Japaneseアサツキ, エゾネギ, チャイブ
Asatuki, Chaibu, Ezonegi
Korean차이브, 챠이브스
Chaibu, Chyaibusu
LatinCepa pallachana
LithuanianLaiškinis česnakas
MongolianНогоон сонгино, Хүмхээл
Nogoon songino, Hümheel
RomanianCivetă, Ceapă mică perenă, Ceapă cu foi subțiriCeapă cu foi subţiri, Ceapă măruntă, Ai tufos
RussianЛук резанец, Шнит-лук, Лук скорода
Luk rezanets, Shnit-luk, Luk skoroda
SerbianЛук влашац, Влашац
Luk vlašac, Vlašac
SlovakPažítka, Cesnak pažitkový
Thaiกุยช่ายฝรั่ง, หอมแป้น
Kui chai farang, Hom paen
TurkishFrenk soğanı, Sirmik, Sirmo
VietnameseHành tăm, Hành trắng
Hanh tam, Hanh trang
Allium schoenoprasum: Chives leaves
Chives leaves
Allium schoenoprasum: Flowering chive
Flowering chive plants
Allium schoenoprasum: Chives with flowers
Chives with flowers
Used plant parts

The long, tube-shaped leaves; they are nearly always used fresh (or deep-frozen).

Plant family

Alliaceae (onion family).

Sensory quality

Similar to onion, but sub­stantially milder and more subtle.

Main constitu­ents

Chives’ constituents equal those of the close relatives, onion and garlic. The following volatile com­ponents have been identified: dipropyl disulfide, methyl pentyl disulfide, pentanethiol, pentyl-hydro­disulfid and cis/trans-3,5-diethyl-1,2,4-tri­thiolane. Chives contain significant amounts of the vitamins A and C.


Unknown, maybe Central Asia. Today, the plants grows practically everywhere in Europe, even at high altitude.


English chive derives from Latin cepa onion via Middle English cyve or cheve, a loan from Old French cive. Note that the singular chive is used for the plant, whereas the spice is usually referred to as plural form chives.

The botanical species name schoeno­prasum means essentially rush-like leek: Greek schoinos [σχοῖνος] rush (a kind of grass, genus Juncus) and prason [πράσον] leek. The reference is, obviously, to the leaves’ shape. Cf. also the Modern Greek name praso [πράσο].

Allium schoenoprasum: Chive inflorescence
Chive flowers

In quite many lan­guages, chives are denoted as a grassy variant of their larger relatives, leek, onion and garlic. Examples from Scandi­navia are Swedish gräs­lök, Nor­wegian gras­løk, Estonian muru­lauk and Finnish ruoho­sipuli grass-onion; similar are Catalan all junci­forme rush-shaped garlic, Arabic waraq basal [ورق بصل] onion-leaf and Hebrew irit basal [עירית בצל] asphodel-onion, where asphodel refers to a Medi­terranean type of lily with hollow leaves (e. g., Asphodelus fistulosus) also known as onionweed. Other languages use geo­graphical epithets like Bulgarian luk sibirski [лук сибирски] Siberian onion or Turkish frenk soğanı Frankish onion. In the Romance language, the names of chives are often diminutives formed from onion meaning little onion or (if you like that) onionlet: French civette, Spanish cebollana, Italian erba cipollina and Portuguese cebolinho.

German Schnitt­lauch con­tains the verbal stem schneid- cut, be­cause, un­like its sub­terranean relatives onion and garlic, chives are har­vested by cut­ting the leaves. The name has entered some Slavonic languages (Czech šnyt­lík, Russian shnit-luk [шнит-лук]).

For an explanation of the element -lauch in the German and Swedish names, see garlic, where also the botanical species name Allium is discussed.

Selected Links

Ilkas und Ullis Kochecke: Schnittlauch ( via Ilkas und Ullis Kochecke: Schnittknoblauch ( via A Pinch of Chives ( Sorting Allium names ( Pflanzen des Capitulare de Villis: Schnittlauch ( Chives Herbs by Linda Gilbert: Chives Desirable Herb and Spice Varieties: Chives

Allium schoenoprasum: Chive flower
Chive flower
Allium schoenoprasum: Flowering chive
Flowering chives
The subtle and pleasant taste of chives makes them an extremely popular food addition in Central and Western Europe. Fresh chives, finely chopped, are frequently sprinkled over soups and vegetable stews, and several sauces, especially such based on egg or yoghurt, greatly profit from chives (see borage for an example). Boiling, frying or baking will, though, destroy most of chives’ fine aroma.

Although chives are more used alone than combined with other fresh herbs, chervil, tarragon and parsley are particularly worth trying; this mixture is known as fines herbes in French cuisine and is frequently suggested for subtly-flavoured cold and warm dishes, e. g., salads, scrambled eggs, fish and poultry. Fines herbes can also effectively be enhanced by addition of some cress, cicely or lemon balm. Less recommendable is the combination of chives with garlic, which would overpower chives’ delicate aroma; much better suited is bear’s garlic with its significantly less dominant fragrance; lovers of this herb might even try to use it instead of chives.

In the mountain climate of the Alps, chive is one of the few herbs that can be grown locally, and correspondingly enjoys significant popularity. Black rye bread with butter and chopped chives may seem a modest meal, but tastes quite good with Tyrolean butter; indeed, this food has even left traces in the world’s literature (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy).

Another field of application for chives is cheese, especially cottage cheese and other very mild varieties. Cottage cheese flavoured with chives and optionally other fresh herbs is a popular spring dish in Central Europe.

The spice is nearly always used fresh, because it loses all its flavour by drying. Industrially, dried chives are produced by the less destructive process of lyophilization, but still I prefer the fresh product; in winter, deep-frozen chives are fully satisfactory.

Allium tuberosum: Garlic chives, Chinese chive
Garlic chives
Allium tuberosum: Garlic chives, Chinese chive
Garlic chives (A. tuberosum)
Allium tuberosum: Chinese chive inflorescence
Garlic chive flower

Related species are used in the cuisines of China, Tibet and parts of South East Asia; these are mostly not available in the West. Chives make a good substitute for these and are often asked for in cookbooks without any further comment (e. g., momos, see Sichuan pepper).

In Chinese cooking, the flat leaves of garlic chives (Allium tuberosum), native to the Himalayas, are often employed in the same way as chives in European cooking, i. e., sprinkled over foods for extra fragrance and decoration. Garlic chives can be substituted by chives, but since the latter have a weaker flavour, it is worth the trouble searching for true garlic chives which are often sold in Chinese groceries; otherwise, young leaves of garlic make the best substitute. A unique condiment is prepared from the flowers of garlic chive (jiu cai hua [韭菜花]): The unopened flowers are made into a salty, dark green puree with a powerful garlicy flavour.

In Nepal, a chive relative called jimbu (also known as Himalaya onion, Allium spp.) is often used for cooking, especially for flavouring potato curries and dal [दाल], boiled legumes. Usage is restricted to some Himalayan communities, e. g., the Thakali. Rather uniquely, jimbu leaves are usually in the dried state and very shortly fried in butter fat or oil to develop their flavour (see also ajwain on Indian spiced butter, tadka).

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