Sonntag, 12. Juni 2011

Plant of the Day (June, 12th, 2011) - Allium schoenoprasum L.

Happy Pentecost everybody. Today, I present you Allium schoenoprasum L. as today's “Plant of the Day”. This plant belongs to Amaryllidaceae. I'm sure, most of you will know this plant, because it's a very popular spice. In German, it's called “Schnittlauch” and in English “Chives”.

A. schoenoprasum - habitus

It's a small herb, with heights between 20 and 20 centimetres. The leaves are very narrow and stalk-like shaped with a hollow interior. Without its inflorescences, the plant looks like a grass.

The inflorescences follow the “head 2” pattern. Each head consists of 30 – 50 small flowers with six pink or purple tepals per flower. The ripe fruits are black capsules.

 A. schoenoprasum - inflorescences

The true origin of A. schoenoprasum is unkown. Some Scientists think, that it came from Central Asia or the Mediterranean Basin. Others say, that it was native to the Alps. Anyway, today you can find this species all over the World, especially in Europe, Asia and Northern America. Natural populations grow in the mountainous regions on rocky slopes but also at river sides. It prefers loose, wet and nutrient-rich soils.

A. schoenoprasum - single inflorescence
(here you can see a single flower from above)

Because of its tangy taste, A. schoenoprasum, has become a very popular spice, especially as part of the French and Mediterranean “Fines Herbes” cuisine. Anthropologists believe, that chives was grown as spice since the middle age. So today, you can find this species also outside of their natural habitat in gardens and so on. Sometimes, some individuals also grow wild.

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