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An herb is a plant whose leaves, seeds, or flowers are used for flavoring food or in medicine. Other uses of herbs include cosmetics, dyes, and perfumes. The name derives from the Latin herba, meaning "green crops." Chives, Allium schoenoprasum, are from the Alliaceae family, like their close relatives garlic, leek, and onions. While the plant may be called a "chive plant," the herb is invariably referred to in the plural.
The Ancient Chinese have used chives for thousands of years, and they were reportedly brought to Europe from China by Marco Polo.
Chives are long, thin leaves that grow from 6-20 inches long (15-50 cm.). Some species' leaves are flat, while others are tubular. They resemble green onions or scallions, but are thinner. There are several related species, including Siberian and garlic chives. The flowers are lavender on most plants, and white on the garlic chive plant.
Hardy perennials, chives they can be grown from seed, although it takes a long time before they're ready for harvest. Experts often recommend growers simply divide an existing clump. The plant should be deadheaded and they are best harvested by cutting close to the ground. In other words, do not pull up the plant. They prefer sun and well-drained soil.
Food and Other Uses
Chives lose their flavor when cooked for any length of time, so they are primarily used raw as a garnish, usually chopped, for example, on baked potatoes with sour cream. They may also be added to a dish such as stir-fry for the last few minutes of cooking, or used to flavor butter, oil, and vinegar.
These herbs do not dry well, but they can be chopped and frozen. Some people simply bring a pot indoors in the winter, and use them fresh year around.