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Chives

( Originally Published 1933 )



Liliaceae

Perennial

Chives, called ciboulette by the French, grow wild throughout Europe, in Siberia, and in North America along the shores of Lakes Huron and Superior, and further north. The variety now used probably comes from the European Alps. Many writers think the flowers are pretty and that the plant belongs in the flower garden. They do not appeal to me, personally, but the delicate flavor of the chives is so delightful that these plants should be in every collection of herbs. The whole plant forms a little bush of spreading, slender, tubular leaves from which rise dun-colored flowers about ten inches or more high, scented decidedly of onion.

Bulb. The bulb is three-quarters of an inch long, narrow, and white, with many white rootlets.

Leaf. The leaves are round, slender hollow tubes of a yellowish green terminating in a point, and are about twelve inches long.

Flower. The flower stems are slender, round, and a blue-green. The flowers form clusters of dusty, lavender blossoms. Each little perianth is six-parted and each segment has a pointed, whitish tip and a dark rib down the center of it on the outside. The anthers are whitish, and the filaments the same color as the flowers.

Seed. The seeds are longish, shiny black, and three-angled.

HISTORY AND LEGEND

Chives were planted in European gardens in the sixteenth century and were in American gardens before 1806. Bartram had them on his list in 1814.

USES

Medicine. Chives are not in the official pharmacopoeia. Food. The leaves, finely chopped, give a delicious flavor to salads, omelettes, and certain sauces, and go well with cheeses and with sweet herbs. They are even used by the Ainus of northern japan.

CULTURE

They are not at all difficult to grow. The plants are propagated by dividing the clumps, and planting the little bulbs, and can also be grown from seeds. Vilmorin ad-vises digging them up and replanting them every two or three years, and says they do well as edgings to beds of other plants, better in fact this way than when grown in a bed to themselves. In my garden they have to be fed at intervals, for the constant cutting weakens them, al-though this does not seem to be true in France, where Vilmorin says the more they are cut the more vigorously they grow.



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