Allium schoenoprasum

Allium schoenoprasum

Chives (Allium schoenoprasum L., 1753) is a perennial aromatic herb plant that was traditionally included in the Liliaceae family. With the recent review and classification of APG III, it is attributed to Amaryllidaceae (Allioideae subfamily).

Systematic –
Systematically the chives belong to the Eukaryota Domain, Kingdom Plantae, Spermatophyta Superdivision, Magnoliophyta Division, Liliopsida Class, Liliidae Subclass, Liliales Order, Liliaceae Family and then Genus Allium and Species A. schoenoprasum.

Etymology –
The etymology of the generic term (allium) is very ancient. In fact, the garlic plants were widely known from the Romans and Greeks. However, it seems that the term comes from the Celtic language and would mean “burning” in reference to the acrid, strong and pungent odor of the plant. The specific term derives from the union of two Greek words: “schoinos” (or skhoinos) meaning “twisted rocks or ropes made of rush” in reference to the leaves that resemble the rushes, while the other word “prasòn” means “leek “. The scientific combination (Allium schoenoprasum) was proposed by Carl von Linné (1707 – 1778) in the publication “Species Plantarum” of 1753.
Ordinarily also called Hungarian Garlic, Chives, Slim Porro.

Geographic Distribution and Habitat –
Chives are a perennial bulb originally from Europe and the Americas. It looks like a dense clump of tubular leaves, narrow and long, fleshy, with the scent of garlic and onion.
Its geographical distribution is very wide, being between Northern Eurasia and North America. In Italy it is considered rare and is found in the Northern Alps and Apennines. Out of Italy (always in the Alps) is common in all regions from France to Slovenia. Other European reliefs are present in Vosges, Jura Massif, Central Massif, Pyrenees, Balkan Mountains, Carpathians.
Chives are often found on wet and pebble meadows (near springs and brooks) with rich but light soils; But also in under-rock shelters, scaffolding, stone and subalpine and alpine grasslands. It grows indistinctly on limestone soils that siliceous with neutral pH. The substrate must have a medium nutritional content and must be moist.
Distribution of this species is possible from 600 up to 2600 m s.l.m .; He therefore frequents vegetation plans: mountain, subalpine and alpine.

Description –
The Allium schoenoprasum has a herbaceous, perennial appearance with a height between 15 and 50 cm. It is a bulbous geophytic plant; It is a plant that carries the gems in an underground position. Chives during the advent season have no air bodies and the gems are found in underground bodies called bulbs, a reservoir that annually produces new stems, leaves and flowers. These plants are very aromatic: they smell onion for the presence of sulfur compounds. They are also completely glabrous. They have bulbized and outgoing roots from the terminal end. The bulb color varies from whitish to light brown and are tunicate (the tunic is full). Bulbs can be numerous (aggregated), small, oval shaped elongated. Initially the bulb is only one, then divides into smaller bulbs in the tunic which remains persistent. The size of the bulbs varies from a width of 12 to 15 mm to a length of 15 to 20 mm.
The stems of this plant originate from bulbs and have round section cables and a bright emerald green color. If crushed they release the subtle onion flavor that gave them the common name. The bark at the base is wound with a number of sheaths up to 1/3. The diameter of the barrel may vary from 2 to 5 mm.
The Allium schoenoprasum has leaves of the radical type available spiraled with elongated and very narrow shape; These are thin needles to form a straight leg. The leaves, like the stem, are quarries. The peculiarity of this plant is that if the leaves are cut off at the base, they are quickly reformed to form a carpet vegetation. Their diameter ranges from 2 to 4 mm, with a length as it suffers.
On top of the roots of the chives we find the inflorescences in the shape of more or less hemispheric umbrellas, consisting on average of 10 to 30 small lilac-pink lilac flowers. The flowers are supported by short pedicels and at the base of the inflorescence there is a bi-tri-valve scary (brattea paper) pada with the function of protecting the inflorescence. The color of the flowers can be rarely white with the size of the inflorescence around 3 cm and between 7 and 13 cm in height. The length of the pedicles is finally about 5 mm. The flowers are hermaphroditic and bloom from June to August.
The fruit of the chives is capsules. The dehiscence of this occurs along the three main rib ribs (loculicidal capsules). The shape is almost triangular with three logs in each of which one or two seeds are contained.
The pollination of this species is largely ensured by insects, such as bees and wasps, as they are nectarines (entomogamous pollination). Fertilization is, as has been said, through the pollination of flowers, but also by foot division, very used properties in horticultural cultivation.

Cultivation –
The cultivation of the chives should be carried out with sowing on a light and well drained substrate. After the chives of the chives will be well developed these will have to be transplanted into the soil at a distance of 30-40 cm; Chives can be grown, for home use, even in jars in a sunny position. The propagation of this species, as seen, can be performed by division of the foot.
The pickling of chives is based on the fact that it is used fresh, cutting the desired quantity just before use.
Chives, as mentioned, can also be cultivated easily in the home, as it grows well both in the sun and in the shade. It is a perennial plant that goes to rest during the winter, drying completely and returning to grow early in the spring, becoming lush until autumn. Jets gather as the plant grows, according to what we need to consume. It is a plant that needs a damp environment and is watered abundantly. The fresh leaves are used directly together with the flowers.
For fertilization we always recommend the organic one or, if not possible, the slow-selling one in the spring and another in the autumn. The contributions are, however, always commensurate with the real necessity of the plant and the substrate.
Pruning is carried out by removing the dense bushes, in order to avoid the leaves being too compact to yellow; Cut the flowers before they taper to get more vigorous plants.
The propagation of the chives can take place by seed, then the new plants will have flowers with different colors than the mother plant. Or you can divide the bushes of the adult plants: in this case the flowers will keep the color of the mother plant. Sowing can take place in the spring in the field, where it is recommended to thresh the seedlings once grown to a height of 5 cm; Or in winter in seedling, to obtain plants to be transplanted in April at a distance of 50 cm. Between the files and 20 cm. On the row. Usually this plant does not suffer from the attack of parasites and diseases.

Uses and Traditions –
Allium schoenoprasum is used in herbal medicine as an antiscorbutic (it fights scurvy with the presence of vitamins. It is antiseptic (property to prevent or slow the development of microbes), callifugo, hypoglycemic (decreases glucose in the blood), cardiotonic (regulates frequency Cardiac), healing (accelerating healing of wounds) and wormwood (eliminates intestinal worms).
The intact cells of this species, such as garlic, contain the allyl, an odorless amino acid. By the action of the allyinase enzyme, which is released by the bulb break, the allyline is converted to allicin, composed strongly odorated.
The recognized therapeutic properties are due to potassium, phosphorus, calcium, sodium, iron, zinc, sulfur and germanium.
The leaves of this species contain the following substances: Various substances, including proteins, fats, carbohydrates and fiber. Minerals, including calcium, phosphorus, iron, magnesium, sodium, potassium and zinc. Vitamins, including Vitamin A, Tiamina (B1), Riboflavin (B2), Niacin and Vitamin C.
The essential oil of chives has digestive, antiseptic, laxative and cardiotonic properties; Outside is used to make cataplasm on the skin as keratolytic.
The chives are used almost exclusively fresh as it has a mild aroma that is easily lost. To propose it best, chefs keep it as a plant and serve only at the time of actual use, quickly rinse and smash it with scissors. It garnishes and emphasizes the taste of crêpes, sauces, flavored men, salads and soups, but can also accompany the fish. Thanks to its elasticity, it is also used to tie small bass-shaped preparations, such as crêpes, or buns of boiled vegetables and accompanied by sauces such as asparagus or bresaola rolls to herbs. It is typical of French cuisine, but it is also popular in Italy. The green leaves are good in soups, in intingules and salads.
I think about 30% of the “dishes” of our kitchen, include it as a necessary ingredient.
Certain documentation attests to the cultivation of this grass already in the 16th century Europe.
There are many superstitions associated with this grass: for example, it is thought to keep the vampires away, that the mists from the ground, chewing, keep the opponents away in race races (this is likely)
Germanic peoples attributed it to antiquity, magical properties, believed that rubbing the plant would eliminate any malice or spell operated by the bad gnomes of the Black Forest.
The penetrating smell has always inspired esoteric thoughts, as recalled by the Muslim legend that, when Satan left the Eden, after his original sin, the garlic would appear on his left foot, on the right side the onion.
Celtic peoples attributed magic properties, and used it to take away the evil eye or any negative spell.

Preparation Method –
Of the chives pick the leaves, they break off one by one and wash under the jet of water. They are distributed on a clean cloth to dry in the air and let them dry in the dark. Once dried the leaves can be chopped and stored in a glass jar, closed.
Chives, however, are mostly fresh and must be chopped, or rather shredded with scissors, only at the last moment to avoid losing the aroma. Ideal for flavoring salads, soups, meat and fish dishes, it is also great for flavoring butter and sauces.
It can be used in any preparation that requires the use of raw onions, but where it takes a less decisive and wrap flavor.
The best way to keep the chives on the chives is to freeze it. Follow the same procedure, then put all the leaves in a basket and steam for 2 minutes. Make bouquets and lock them in aluminum paper according to the amount of use. Place in a plastic frost envelope and place in the freezer (or freezer). When you need it do not need to defrost it.
Of the chives, all parts of the plant can be used: leaves and bulbs. Flowers can also be used even if they are less aromatic than other parts.
If you want to keep the chives that are purchased on the market or cut off from the plant for a few days, wrap them in a damp cloth (paper or cloth) and keep them in a refrigerator, closed in a container.
Chives are also used to flavor oil or vinegar dressings.
It has a very delicate aroma that resembles that of onion, but much less pungent and acre and for this reason it is used for those particularly delicate dishes where the taste of garlic or onion would be excessive.
Leaves can be used as a complement to salads, to flavor soups, to flavor the meat, to dress soft cheeses and sauces. It is usually added to the foods at the end of cooking because, as the very delicate tissues, it would not sustain prolonged cooking.
Often, the leaves, given their elongated shape and thanks to their elasticity, are used to tie rolls.
Leaves and bulbs can be used to garnish and flavor soups, salads, seasoning soft cheeses, to flavor sauces and butter.
Even the flowers are edible and have a delicate onion flavor, they can be used to decorate salads.
It is typical of French cuisine, but it is also popular in Italy.

Guido Bissanti

Sources

– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– Treben M., 2000. The Health of the Lord’s Pharmacy, Tips and Experiences with Medicinal Herbs, Ennsthaler Publisher
– Pignatti S., 1982. Flora d’Italia, Edagricole, Bologna.
– Conti F., Abbate G., Alessandrini A., Blasi C. (eds.), 2005. An annotated checklist of the Italian vascular flora, Palombi Editore.

Caution: Pharmaceutical applications and surgical uses are indicated for information purposes only; they are not prescription-related in any way; Therefore, no liability is accepted for their use for any aesthetic or food purpose.




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