Though chives may be small, their benefits are plentiful! Both low in calories and high in flavor, these hollow, tubular leaves may appear similar to green onions. However, they are actually an entirely different species of plant. Related to the lily family yet often confused with scallions, the chive is a uniquely beneficial vegetable unto itself. Chives have loads of nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
According to the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 28, one tablespoon of chopped chives (3g) provides 1 calorie and less than 1 gram of fat, protein, or carbohydrate. Additionally, that same one tablespoon also contains 131 international units (IU) of vitamin A and 1.7 milligrams of vitamin C (3 percent of the daily value).
A member of the allium family, they are similar to garlic, shallots, and leeks. Chives make up the “fresh top greens” of the bulb vegetable. From a distance, they may look somewhat like grass. Chive, chervil, parsley and tarragon, are known among chefs as the “quartet of classic French fine herbs.”
There are several varieties of chives, all of which belong to the family Alliaceae. Common or onion chives are known as Allium schoenoprasum, while Giant Siberian chives are known as Allium ledebourianum. Chinese or garlic chives are allium tuberosum and Siberian garlic chives are Allium nutans.
Start Growing Chives
Chives are also every gardener’s best friend. They make an excellent companion plant to many fruits, vegetables, and herbs. On the other hand, they also thrive alone or in a small container indoors, for instance on a windowsill.
Chives are native to China and the Siberian Highlands of Eastern Europe. However, they are now common in gardens and homes all over the world.
Finally, you can expect chive stalks to be very slender. Typically, they are more narrow in circumference than a standard pencil and stand a foot tall on average. Moreover, they are drought-tolerant perennials. Each year, they will produce spiky, lavender-colored edible flowers.
Continue reading to learn how to grow chives right at home (spoiler alert: it’s super simple!).