Are chives part of the onion family

Chives Vs. Green Onions: SPICEography Showdown

Green onions and chives are both members of the large and diverse onion family. This family has other members like leeks, shallots and scallions; all these are alliums. Green onions are Allium fistulosum, chives are Allium schoenoprasum while leeks are Allium porrum and shallots are Allium stipitatum. Each of these herbs brings something different to the table. Chives and green onions are two of the most widely available and commonly used. Given that they are related, you may wonder how similar they are. Can you use green onions and chives as substitutes for each other? Do they have different flavors? Below, we will answer these questions by comparing these two herbs. Here is a look at how chives and green onions really compare to each other.

Do chives and green onions resemble each other?

Both consist mostly of long, slender green stalks; however, the stalks of green onions are much thicker. The bulbs are also defined clearly. Chive stalks are thin, resembling grass blades with bulbs that are all but nonexistent. As a result, the entire green onion plant is used when cooking. Only the upper parts of the chive stalks are used. Chives are usually snipped and left to re-grow.

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Do chives and green onions differ in flavor?

One of the main differences between chives and green onions has to do with potency. Chives are smaller when compared to green onions, but are more potent. The stronger flavor means that they are best used in smaller amounts. Green onions are mature scallions and as such are more pungent than their younger counterparts, but still less potent than chives; that all changes when these two herbs are cooked. You may have noticed that most recipes containing chives call for them to be used raw. Typically, they get sprinkled onto the dish at the end. Green onion will stand up to cooking much better than chives.

Can you use chives in place of green onions or vice versa?

The answer to this question is yes, chives can be used as a substitute for green onions; however, you will have to keep the potency difference in mind. You will not get the same amount of flavor from an equal volume of chives. In fact, you may need to multiply the quantity by six when using chives in place of green onions. A recipe requiring a single bunch of green onions may require six bunches of chives. Similarly, you need a sixth as much green onion when using it as a chive replacement.

Are green onions and chives used in the same ways?

Because chives are best when raw, they are most often used for salads and as a garnish that can provide an onion flavor without large chunks of onion. For example, you can use chives to finish soups or for deviled eggs. You can use green onions for any dish where large pieces of onion are desirable, which includes both cooked preparations and raw ones. Add green onions to stir-fries and braised dishes as well as to salads and sandwiches.

About Chives

About Chives

Description of Chives
Chives are used a lot in different international cuisines, chives are herbs which are part of the onion family. In fact, the origin of the name “chives” can be traced back to the Latin word “cepa”, which means “onion.” Its scientific name is Allium schoenoprasum. This herb grows in Asia, Europe, and North America. Its stalks are similar to that of the reed – long, slender, and hollow – and they grow from 10 to 15 inches or 30 to 50 cm tall. The stalks are a bright dark green. Much like onions, chives are bulbous. That is, they grow bulbs at the roots. These bulbs serve as storage organs for food. Chives grow in clumps, or clusters, and sprout flowers as well. The flowers are shaped like stars and are colored pink or purple. They bloom for about two months in the middle of summer.
History of Chives
Chives have been in use for many centuries now. Some say that they originate from China and that the Chinese have been using chives for many purposes. The widespread use of chives can be traced back to Europe during the Middle Ages. Chinese chives are a bit different from chives that are used in the Western parts of the world, though. Their stems are generally wider than other types of chives.
Cultivation of Chives
Chives can be grown using seeds or an existing patch. The latter method has been proven to be the easier way to start your own chive patch, though. To do this, just take out a cluster of chives and then directly plant it into your own garden. The best time to cultivate your own chive patch would depend on your location. In general, early spring is the best time to do this. If you want to use seeds, you have more flexibility as to the planting time. Chive seeds can be planted until early fall. When using seeds, you need to germinate them first and then replant the shoots after about weeks.
If you are a city dweller with no access to a reasonable plot of soil, do not despair. Chives are one of those herbs which can be easily grown inside your house or apartment. Get a medium sized pot and fill it with garden loam or slightly acidic soil. Transplant a whole bunch (or several if you wish) of chives into the pot and then place it on your window sill. Now you have yourself year-round access to this much wanted herb!
Chives grow well in loamy soil but they also thrive in soil that is slightly acidic. Chives need moisture, especially during its growing period. Make sure that your patch has enough shade.
Uses for Chives
Chives are most commonly used fresh. If you are even vaguely familiar with French, Chinese, and Swedish cuisine, you would know that chives are a common ingredient in their dishes. In fact, chives are included in the group of herbs that the French call “fines herbes”. This is a group of herbs which are a staple in French dishes.
The main plant part which is used for culinary purposes is the stalk. The stalks (or leaves as some would say) are usually chopped. The chopped stalks are then mixed with the food. Though part of the onion family, chives do not have such a strong flavor. In addition, they add a splash of color to the dish they are mixed with. That is why chives are a popular ingredient to many dishes.
Chives are commonly mixed with cold soups, various kinds of stir fry, and sandwiches. Chives can be used with meat as well as fish. Chives are great for fresh salads. Gathered fresh and chopped finely, chives will liven up any salad. You may be surprised to know that chives are even mixed with pancakes! Another common use of chives is for sauces and dips or garnishing. Sour cream and cheese also go well with chives.
Aside from culinary purposes, chives are also used for medicinal practices as well. They are known to have some positive effects on blood circulation. Much like garlic, it can lower the blood pressure. However, its effects are not as intense as garlic.
The stalk or leaves of chives are not the only parts that are useful. In fact, the flower of chives is one of the most used parts as well. As the flowers are quite colorful and nicely shaped, they are used as ornaments for the dinner table. Some people also make use of the flowers to add to the beauty of their food presentation. Chives can also brighten up your herb garden. Just leave them there in full bloom and they will certainly add color to your surroundings. They are also used to brighten up borders and corners in some properties. In order to keep your chives happily blooming and looking bright, you need to do some maintenance work. Trimming is an essential activity. Trim lightly instead of just hacking off the tops of the plants. This will encourage growth and get rid of leaves that are looking slightly old and dry.
Chives are generally known to have insect repellent properties. Planting chives near other flowers can help get rid of aphids and other unwanted insects. This practice is especially useful when planting chives near ornamental flowers such as roses. Ironically, though, bees seem to be attracted to chives. In fact, chives have been used to help induce an increase in bee populations.
In the olden times, chives were used for fortune telling. Folklore also talks about sprinkling chives under one’s pillow in order to guarantee a good night’s sleep.
Dried Chives
Though chives are commonly used fresh, dried chives are also used for a variety of purposes. However, dried chives lose much of their flavor. Chives are dried in a variety of ways and you can easily find them in supermarkets. Though you can dry chives under the sun, commercially produced chives are normally freeze dried. Certain folklore also surrounds dried chives. Superstition states that hanging dried chives around one’s house would ward off disease and other evil spirits.

Chives, Green Onions, or Scallions, OH MY!

As part of my tasks at GoFresh, I take a lot of orders and get to work with some awesome sales people. Recently one of them called and asked me to check on the inventory for Scallions. Maybe you can relate…

“Scallions? Do you mean Shallots?”
“No, not Shallots, Scallions.”
“Are those like Scallops?”
“No. Scallops are seafood. Scallions.”
“I don’t follow.”

I felt like I was in an Abbot and Costello routine, produce style. Apparently, Scallions are similar to green onions which are similar to chives, kind of. How does someone know the difference between these or if there really is any difference at all?

James Cave at The Huffington Post helps clarify the confusion and even adds in another type of onion I was not aware of until now.

“Scallions and green onions (not chives) are actually the same thing — alliums (specifically the genus and species Allium fistulosum). They’re long, green and floppy, with a bulb that doesn’t really bulge that much.
Spring onions, which also look similar, are scallions that have matured, have a bigger bulb and are spicier and more pungent than scallions.
Chives, on the other hand, are also alliums, but a different species (schoenoprasum), and grow like weeds — and for a few weeks in early spring can be found with pretty little purple flowers on them! Chives are much more pungent herbs, best used diced into smaller doses. Even better, a chive’s flowers are also entirely edible.”

The writers at Chowhound have more to add.

“Grocery stores label long, skinny, green-topped onions that have white bottoms as either scallions or green onions. But they are almost always the exact same plant, says Kat Barlow, a customer service technician for Territorial Seed Company in Oregon. Chives, on the other hand, are ‘typically considered an herb since the plant stays pretty tiny yet has a strong, pungent flavor that is good as a seasoning in smaller quantities.’ Specifically, green onions/scallions are the genus and species Allium fistulosum, a.k.a. the Japanese bunching onion or Welsh onion, says Dale W. McNeal, a professor emeritus of biology at the University of the Pacific in Northern California. According to Barlow, this species “stays small and does not form big bulbs”; she adds that the regular cooking onion (Allium cepa) may also occasionally be sold as a green onion or spring onion if it’s harvested early, before the bulb fully forms. The immature cepa has a stronger flavor than the fistulosum. Used raw, green onions/scallions add a bit of texture, color, and a milder taste to your cooking than regular onions. They are also delicious grilled whole.”

Now that we know a little more about these, how do I know which one will be right for my special dish? Adam from the site Vegan Food Lover talks about just that.

“Green onions taste, well, like onions. However, their flavor is less intense than other onions. If you want to add mild onion flavor to your recipe, green onions are what you should use. They also add color and texture. Chives are even milder than scallions, and the flavor is somewhat like a cross between onion and garlic. Chives are commonly used in salads, on sandwiches, and as a garnish, but those are only a few of the countless ways chefs incorporate them in their recipes. Chives are a better choice when you only want to add a slight oniony/garlicky flavor without adding bulk to your dish. Again, chives are an herb, so think of using them in the same way you would use other herbs.”

Here are some recipe ideas to try.

Chives: Tomato & Herb Salad with Fresh Chive Cheese

Scallions/Green Onions/Spring Onions: Baked Potato Soup With Bacon, Green Onion & Cheddar

wild onions 1.JPG

Wild onion/garlic tops freshly gathered, chopped and ready for use in a wide variety of dishes.

(MARCUS SCHNECK, [email protected])

While ramps, or wild leeks, are the Kobe beef of the onion family, wild onions and wild garlic are the basic, every day, mega-versatile ground chuck.

Wild onions and wild garlic grow nearly everywhere, particularly where they’re not wanted. They grow abundantly in large, easily gathered clumps. They store simply and for long periods. And, they can be used in a myriad of dishes throughout the year.

They are all members of the onion (Allium) family, which includes more than 500 species in northern climates around the world. The most widespread in Pennsylvania are the wild onion, or nodding onion (Allium cernuum) and the wild garlic (Allium canadense).

They’re fairly interchangeable, and both can be used as scallions, scallion tops, onion tops, garlic tops and chives.

Those that grow in extremely rich, loose soil will produce a small, mild onion bulb that is prime for digging in the spring. Those growing in less fertile, more densely packed soil will produce a small, hard, strongly garlicy bulb by mid- to late summer.

In fertile, loosely packed soil, wild onions and wild garlic produce succulent, tender bulbs, ready for harvest in the spring.

But the real abundance and versatility of the wild onion and wild garlic lies in those succulent, green tops that look like bunches of chives in the garden or taller, rounder patches of some monster grass in the lawn.

Take a look out across your lawn. Those tall clumps, towering above even the yet-to-be-mown grass, likely are clumps of wild onion or wild garlic. And, now is prime time for gathering a whole mess of them.

Most lawns, and nearly all wild spaces, across Pennsylvania sport plenty of clumps of wild onion and wild garlic.

There are some poisonous look-alikes to avoid, including the death camass. If you snap one of the stems and do not smell onion or garlic, you are not holding wild onion or wild garlic. With the genuine articles, there is always that unmistakable odor.

We are in the prime time of the year for gathering the tops. They are at their freshest best right now, juicy, plump and tender.

Just wrap your fingers around the clump and cut through the whole group of stems near the base with a kitchen or garden shears. Sort out and discard any unintentional materials, like bits of other plants, stray blades of grass and onion or garlic stems that have already dried.

A handful of the tops can be stored in a freezer bag in the refrigerator, where they will retain their freshness for many weeks while constantly ready for chopping into any salad or recipe that calls for chives or scallion tops. The same handful in the freezer bag, with air forced from the bag as thoroughly as possible, and stored in the freezer will be fresh and ready for use for a year or so.

The tops also can be dried in an oven or a food dehydrator and stored like chives on the condiment shelf.

A refreshing way to use them fresh today is as creamed onions:


1 Tbsp. salted butter

2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

3/4 tsp. salt

Dash black pepper

1 cup fresh wild onion/wild garlic tops with any bulbs that can be found still attached, chopped and tightly packed

1 cup milk

In a saucepan, mix the butter, flour, salt and pepper. Heat for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly, until blended smoothly.

Add the chopped wild onion/wild garlic. Heat for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly.

Stir in the milk and simmer until it thickens to the consistency of mushroom soup.

Caution: With all foods gathered in the wild, positive identification of the plant, plant parts and stages of growth is critical. Do not rely on photos accompanying this column as the final measure of identification. At the very least, multiple confirmations from a range of field guides should be made on any plant or plant parts before they are eaten. Field experience with an expert in wild plant identification is highly recommended.

4 Things To Know About Onion Grass

1. What Is Onion Grass?

Also known as “wild onion,” onion grass is a type of perennial weed and to be suitable for many type of soil, especially thrives in heavy soils. It is relatively hardy, able to withstand anything from cool weather to even drought.

That said, onion grass is a particularly resilient weed. It is given its name due to its spring-onion form (i.e. long, tall, and thin roots) and onion-like smell when broken and crushed.

2. Is It Harmful To Plants?

Like with any weeds out there, onion grass can adversely affect plant growth in your backyard, especially if you do nothing to get rid of it.

Even worse, onion grass can spread rapidly, due to the fact that it propagates through a number of different ways: dropping seeds, growing bulbs underground, etc.

Indeed, it is a vicious weed, and without taking any action to stop it early on, the more difficult it will be to remove them later down the line.

3. How Do You Remove It?

Considering its festering, rapid growth, onion grass is definitely one of the harder weeds to get rid of in your garden. However, the best thing to do is to detect the growth early on, so that you can take measures to destroy them before they spread even more.

A general rule of thumb is to keep your soil well-aerated, so that your plants can receive enough nutrients and be strong enough to fight against the weeds, if need be. As for getting rid of the already-present weeds, it is best not to pull them out, since if you accidentally miss any part of it, the onion grass will be sure to grow again at a fast rate.

Otherwise, it is advisable to regularly mow or trim your lawn: this process slows down the growth of the budding weeds and it gives you more time to consider getting herbicide to blast them away.

However, make sure that you get a brand that does not kill off the plants themselves, and once the onion grass have been eliminated, you will have to check closely to see if any of them remain, for extra good measure.

Here is a video detailing how to get rid of onion grass:

4. Is It Edible?

Even though it is a weed and that you might be put off by the looks of it, onion grass is surprisingly edible. Resembling that of chives, it can be used to accentuate a dish with its distinctive, onion-like smell.

In fact, we have a recipe that uses onion grass to make a delicious, hearty meal:

Wild Onion and Oyster Chowder (taken from Southern Forager)

  • 4 cups cubed frozen hash browns or 4 cups cubed potatoes
  • 2 ribs celery, diced fine
  • 1/2 cup wild onions, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove finely minced or pressed
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 cups half and half
  • 1 teaspoon chicken bouillon granulefresh coarse ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 (3 3/4 ounce) cans petite smoked oysters, drained
  • 6 slices of bacon cooked crisp and crumbledoyster crackers
  1. Microwave or boil potatoes until tender. Drain.
  2. In a large pot, saute wild onions, celery and garlic with butter. Add potatoes and flour, blend well.
  3. Add half and half, milk, bouillon, pepper, and oysters. Cook until heated through, gently stirring occasionally.
  4. Serve topped with bacon and oyster crackers.Variation option: Add 1 can drained corn

Take Away Message

All in all, onion grass can certainly be a pesky weed that more so than not can wreak havoc on your otherwise beautiful garden. Even though it is notorious for being a difficult weed to get rid of, it is not all impossible to do so.

By researching beforehand and taking preliminary measures to control it before treating your garden with herbicide, you can ensure the destruction of onion grass without having to sacrifice your plants for it. Another alternative is to take onion grass and use them in recipes, for it is actually edible!

Happy gardening!

What Is Wild Onion Grass and How Do You Control This Plant?

The edible plants we find on our grocery store shelves are all familiar to us. Every image of their origins involves neatly set rows in farmers’ fields or spotlessly clean stacks in a plastic-smelling, air-contained atmosphere. By eating them, we get about as close to them as we can get, yet, somehow, we forget that the foods were once wild plants. Some were even considered weeds.

One such example is wild onion grass. It is hard to control and invasive in gardens. For that reason, many gardeners seek help getting rid of onion grass. So how do you get rid of it? And why? This page explores the option of controlling and growing onion grass to eat or getting rid of it once and for all.

What Is Onion Grass?

Onion grass is very similar to garlic, onion, and chive. They are all part of the bulbous family. It is unique to its cousins in that it is widely considered an invasive weed.

Common Grass Weeds

Beautifully groomed lawns have one common denominator-they are weed free. A weed is a general term for any plant that a grower finds undesirable. Maybe the plant is ugly, in the case of crabgrass; beautiful but inedible, like clover; or beautiful and edible but invasive, like most types of sunflower. In some cases, the title of weed is arbitrary. Mint is a wild and invasive weed to most gardeners. But in my backyard garden I grow mint, which I use to make tea. Onion grass is another such example of the gray area between plant and weed.

Parts of the Onion Grass Plant

Onion grass, as part of the bulbous family, has a few distinct features to plants in other families. For starters, it contains bulbs under the surface, just above the small root system, with which it reproduces. Its leaves are shaped like tubes. The leaves are also thin and long, giving it a grass-like appearance (see photo below for a picture of the bulbs and roots). The leaves also give it its wonderful aroma and flavor. It shares a similar flavor with its relatives. They can be used much like chives, although with less crunchiness.

Onion grass differs, however, in that it is invasive. If not properly maintained it will run wild and easily overtake a garden or lawn and steal valuable nutrients for other plants and grasses.

Wild Onion Grass Control

If growing and eating onion grass is not for you, there are ways to control and, hopefully, kill it for good.

How Do You Get Rid of Wild Onion Grass?

The first option for getting rid of wild onion grass is to pull it out like you would any other weed. But make sure to focus on getting the bulbs out. It’s easy to just focus on the green part that shoots above ground but, as mentioned earlier, the bulb is responsible for propagating the plant. Leave the bulb and it will come right back. Digging a little deeper will be more work at first, but in the long run it will save a lot of future headaches.

Sprays and Killers

The leaves of onion grass present a unique problem. The thin tubular leaves make typical sprays and killers, which are designed for broader leaves, less effective. This means that larger amounts of spray and/or more applications may be needed. recommends Ortho Weed-B-Gone Max weed killer for small areas and a similar concentrate spray for large areas. Round-Up Ready-to-use weed and grass killer is another good option. Use these sprays before and after winter because onion grass is a perennial plant. The bulbs hang out underneath the surface throughout winter before growing in spring. (Links to these products can be found at the bottom of the page)

Conclusion: Wild onion grass is perfectly good to eat. It comes from the bulbous family and has a similar taste to its relatives, such as chives and onions. It is seldom eaten and is considered a weed because it is invasive. If you choose to get rid of it, you must get rid of the bulbs from which the plant grows. Sprays and weed killers work too, but certain ones must be used.

Killing Wild Onions – Tips For Getting Rid Of Wild Onion Plants

Wild onions (Allium canadense) can be found in many gardens and lawns, and wherever they are found, a frustrated gardener is sure to be found nearby. These difficult to control weeds are the bane of many gardens, but with determination and a little hard work, you can get rid of wild onions once and for all.

Identification of Wild Onion Plants

Wild onion weeds grow in clumps and are typically found in flower beds or near difficult to mow areas, though they can also grow in lawn. Wild onions can be identified by their thin, waxy spear-like leaves. Wild onion is often confused with its close cousin, wild garlic. Wild onions have flat leaves while wild garlic has round leaves.

Wild onions grow from white bulbs. They will either spread by forming bulblets on their bulbs, creating larger clumps, or by seed, spreading the wild onion plants to other parts of the garden.

Wild onions are edible but only if they have not been treated with a chemical herbicide.

Methods to Get Rid of Wild Onions

Wild onion plants are difficult to control for two reasons.

  • First, because they grow from bulbs and bulblets, which break apart from each other easily, so it is difficult to remove an entire clump without leaving some roots behind.
  • Second, the thin waxy leaves make it difficult for herbicides to stick to the leaves and, even if it does, the wax makes it difficult for the herbicide to penetrate into the wild onion plant.

If ever there was a plant made to survive weed removal methods, wild onion weed is it.

For these reasons, wild onion control needs to be a done with a combination of methods. It is best to take steps to get rid of wild onions in the spring, before the plants have a chance to go to seed, or in the fall, which will weaken any surviving wild onion plants, making it more difficult for them to survive through the winter.

Killing wild onions starts with removing as much of the clump of wild onions as possible. Do not try to pull the clump of wild onions out of the ground. The small bulblets are designed to pull away from the mother plant when pulled, which leaves extra bulbs in the ground that will rapidly regrow. Instead, dig the clump out of the ground with a spade or a trowel. Throw the entire clump away. Do not try to shake excess dirt off back into the hole and do not compost. If you do, this will only respread the wild onion bulblets back into your garden.

The next step to kill wild onions is to treat the area with either a non-selective herbicide (as a last resort) or boiling water. Both boiling water and non-selective herbicide will kill any plant it touches, so keep this in mind in regards to surrounding plants.

After removing the wild onion plants, keep a close eye on the area and repeat the process if any new wild onions start to grow. Due to the hardy break-away bulblets, you can expect that they will grow back at least one time.

If you are unable to treat the area or are keeping the wild onion plants as an edible, keep the plants trimmed (higher for growing as an edible and near the ground if unable to treat as described). This will prevent the wild onion from spreading to other parts of your yard through seeds.

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