Chive flower

When I started rehabilitating the neglected garden beds at my old place in Fort Yates, this was the one food plant that had been surviving in that garden, which was mostly weeds. Here’s a picture of it in my garden that year. One of these ball-shaped inflorescences contains a cluster of six-pointed, tiny flowers.

I always assumed that Chives (Allium schoenoprasum) were native to Central Asia, or somewhere in that region, just like garlic and many other members of the Allium family. But when I did some research for this blog entry, I was surprised to learn that Allium schoenoprasum is indigenous to boreal (forested) regions of North America, as well as Europe and Asia.

This is a hardy perennial plant has an indefinite lifespan. While the foliage will die back with winter frosts, it will grow again each spring from its roots – even if it is not being cared for by humans, like this little patch. From the reading I have been doing, it’s probably a good idea to dig up and separate out some of the chives in a patch every few years in the spring, so they don’t choke each other out. But as this resilient plant shows, they can thrive even when neglected.

Later in the season, these purple flowers produced viable seed. It can either be collected to germinate new chive plants, or allowed to drop to the ground, where it may sprout and increase the number of chive plants in this patch.

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