Allium schoenoprasum

18 Jun

Allium schoenoprasum flower (28/05/2011, Vsetin)

Allium schoenoprasum flower (28/05/2011, Vsetin)

Position: Full sun to partial shade

Soil: Moist, well drained

Flowering period: Late spring to early summer.

Eventual Height: 60cm

Eventual Spread:  5cm

Hardiness: 3a, 3b, 4a, 4b, 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b

Family: Amaryllidaceae

Sub Family: Alliaceae

Allium schoenoprasum is an evergreen summer flowering bulb with a clump forming habit.  Its edible foliage is cylindrical, hollow and dark green, bearing terminal umbels of light purple, bell-shaped hermaphrodite flowers with six tepals that emerge from a papery bract in summer. This plant then produces seed in July and August.

Allium schoenoprasum, commonly known as Chives, is native to most parts of Europe (including the UK), Asia and North America. Chives have been known and cultivated as a food for thousands of years. They have been used extensively in warmer climates they produce edible foliage year round and have also been used in traditional medicine. The ancient Romans used chives to treat sunburn and believed its consumption acted as a diuretic. It was also heavily planted in vegetable gardens as a natural insect repellent. This plant is the only species of  Allium that is native to both the Old World and New World.

The etymological root of the binomial name Allium was the ancient Latin term for garlic. Schoenoprasum is derived from the Greek schoinos meaning ‘rush’ and parson meaning ‘leek’, after a common name; Rush Leek.

Allium schoenoprasum (28/05/2011, Vsetin)

Allium schoenoprasum (28/05/2011, Vsetin)

Allium schoenoprasum may be useful to the landscape architect in community garden or school projects. It may also be useful as an edging to hard surfaces.

Allium schoenoprasum will tolerate almost any soil conditions; it will be happy in acid, neutral or alkaline pH levels, in loam, sand, clay or chalk in a sheltered or exposed location facing any aspect.

Ecologically, Allium schoenoprasum is attractive to bees, despite being a repellant to many insects that consume foliage. 

Allium schoenoprasum requires little maintenance. It may be cut after flowering if it becomes unsightly, and will respond well to a hard pruning, coming back stronger. This plant will seed readily. Clumps of this plant may be divided in spring or autumn.

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