Chives (Allium schoenoprasum): Bon Appétit! for Azure, Blue, Marblewing, and Sulphur Butterflies

by DerdriuMarriner

The violet-tinted flowers of chives are a popular nectar plant for butterflies, especially spring azures, acmon blues, marine blues, creamy marblewings, and orange sulphurs.

Chives (Allium schoenoprasum) are popular in cuisine for their flavor.

They are also popular as a nectar plant for butterflies.

The nectar in chives' beautiful violet-tinted flowers especially is favored by five butterflies:
•spring azure,
•acmon blue,
•marine blue,
•creamy marblewing, and
•orange sulphur.

Allium schoenoprasum: flower emerging as papery bract opens.

" A flower on a Allium schoenoprasum en , commonly know as chives in the process of opening, growing in New Hampshire."
" A flower on a Allium schoenoprasum en , commonly know as chives in the process of opening, growing in New Hampshire."

 

Allium schoenoprasum is commonly known as chives (Latin: cepa, "onion"). Its species name, schoenoprasum, highlights its relationship to leeks and the similarity of its leaves to rushes: Greek σχοῖνος, schoinos, "rush, grass" (genus Juncus) + πράσον, prason, "leek".

The only species of the genus Allium (Latin: “garlic”) which is native to both the New and Old Worlds, Allium schoenoprasum is a perennial with nativity in Europe, Asia, and North America.

 

fully opened chives' flower

Allium schoenoprasum
Allium schoenoprasum

Native distribution in North America

 

In North America, Allium schoenoprasum is native to both Canada and the United States.

Allium schoenoprasum is found throughout Canada’s provinces and territories, with the exception of Prince Edward Island and Nunavut.

Allium schoenoprasum originates in twenty-seven continental states of the United States: Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Maryland, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Virginia, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

In four states Allium schoenoprasum natively occurs in one county: Jackson County in northern Colorado, Essex County in northeastern Massachusetts, Boone County in central Missouri, and Nye County in southern Nevada.

 

U.S.D.A. Plant Hardiness Zone Map: zones 5 to 10

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (U.S.D.A.) Plant Hardiness Zone Map, which zones plants according to the coldest temperature at which they remain viable, Allium schoenoprasum fits Zone 5 (-20° to -10°Fahrenheit; -29° to -23°Celsius) through Zone 10 (30° to 40°F; -1° to 4°C).

 

Allium schoenoprasum floral head: 6-petaled flowers in dense inflorescence of about 30 flowers

closeup of Allium schoenoprasum floral head
closeup of Allium schoenoprasum floral head

Externals: What Allium schoenoprasum looks like

 

Allium schoenoprasum has a spread of 4 to 12 inches (10 to 30 centimeters). Its height ranges from 6 to 20 inches (15 to 50 centimeters).

Its aromatic foliage (scape), growing from densely clustered bulbs, is fine, grassy, hollow, and tubular.

Small bell-shaped flowers open as tints of violet.

Black seeds are plentiful and mature in summer.

 

Allium schoenoprasum roots and bulb

Amager Fælled, København ("Amager Commons, Copenhagen)
Amager Fælled, København ("Amager Commons, Copenhagen)

Ethnobotany: the gentle flavor of chive leaves in fresh and cooked cuisine

 

All of Allium schoenoprasum is edible for humans, from bulbs at the bottom to seeds at the top. Nevertheless, culinary attention primarily seems focused on the plant's foliage, which has long been appreciated for its culinary affability in fresh and cooked foods. Baked potatoes are popularly topped with chives and sour cream. Chives add a gentle zest to cottage cheese and to vegetable or chicken salads. With their attractive green coloring and delicate taste, sliced chives completes any omelette, no matter how many other ingredients are combined therein. A smattering of chives coddles fish and enhances vegetable, meat, or fish soups and stews. Accommodating to an array of culinary categories, chives present a gentle flavor which is detectable but not overwhelming.

Chives' non-culinary forte is in companion planting as a natural repellent to insects, especially Japanese beetles (Popillia japonica). Also juice from the plant's leaves serves as a natural remedy for fungal infections, molds, and scabbed wounds.

 

chives gone to seed: black seeds visible as their 3-valved capsules open at base of dried florets

"Chives small three-valved capsule with seeds"
"Chives small three-valved capsule with seeds"

Chive flowers for butterflies

 

Allium schoenoprasum attracts humans with its foliage, but butterflies attend to its flowers (which are edible for humans). Five butterflies which prize chive flowers are

  • spring azure (Celastrina ladon),
  • acmon blue (Plebejus acmon),
  • marine blue (Leptotes marina),
  • creamy marblewing (Euchloe ausonides),
  • orange sulphur (Colias eurytheme).

 

Spring azure (Celastrina ladon

Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park, Renton, Washington
Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park, Renton, Washington

 

Celastrina ladon is commonly known as spring azure butterfly.

A native of the Americas, Celastrina ladon ranges from subtundra Alaska and Canada south to the mountains of Colombia (República de Colombia) in northwestern South America.

Celastrina ladon is found commonly throughout the continental United States, with the exception of the Texas coast, southern plains, and peninsular Florida.

Habitats desired by Celastrina ladon include fields, deciduous woodlands, freshwater wooded marshes, and swamps.

 

undersides of Spring Azure

Spring Azure (Celastrina ladon)
Spring Azure (Celastrina ladon)

 

Males have blue uppersides while some blackening of forewing edges distinguishes females.

Wingspan is 7/8 to 1-3/8 inches (2.2 to 3.5 centimeters).

In addition to Allium schoenoprasum, Celastrina ladon appreciates dandelion (Taraxacum officinale), hyssops (genus Agastache), lavenders (genus Lavandula), and mints (genus Mentha).

 

Acmon blue (Plebejus acmon)

San Andres National Wildlife Refuge, Las Cruces, south central New Mexico
San Andres National Wildlife Refuge, Las Cruces, south central New Mexico

 

Plebejus acmon is commonly known as acmon blue butterfly. Other scientific synonyms are Aricia acmonIcaricia acmon, Lycaena acmonLycaena antaegon, and Rusticus acmon.

A North American native, Plebejus acmon is a westerner, mainly flitting around California but also making appearances in neighboring Oregon and Nevada as well as Baja California.

Plebejus acmon welcomes various habitats, from deserts to fields and from roadsides to prairie hills.

 

undersides of Acmon Blue

White Slough, near Lodi, northern Central Valley, California
White Slough, near Lodi, northern Central Valley, California

 

Wingspan is 3/4 to 1-1/8 inches (2 to 2.9 centimeters).

Other nectar sought by Plebejus acmon includes lavenders (genus Lavandula), mints (genus Mentha), and thymes (genus Thymus).

 

female Marine Blue (Leptotes marina)

Roma, southern tip of Texas
Roma, southern tip of Texas

 

Leptotes marina is commonly known as marine blue butterfly. Other scientific synonyms are Lycaena marina and Leptotes burdicki.

A native of the Americas, Leptotes marina quietly slips from the Central American country of Guatemala (República de Guatemala) northward through Mexico, including the westernmost and northernmost Mexican state of Baja California (Estado Libre y Soberano de Baja California), and especially into the southwestern United States.

Wanderings for temporary colonizing extend east to Wisconsin, Indiana, Kentucky, and Louisiana.

Favored habitats are the deserts and mesquite scrubs of the southwest along with alfalfa fields, deserts, and urban gardens.

 

undersides of Marine Blue

Lake Gregory, southern California
Lake Gregory, southern California

 

The blue uppersides of males are tinged with purple. Undersides of forewings have pale brown bands.

Wingspan measures 7/8 to 1-1/8 inches (2.2 to 2.9 centimeters).

In addition to Allium schoenoprasum, Leptotes marina is thrilled by dandelion (Taraxacum officinale), goldenrods (genus Solidago), lavenders (genus Lavandula), and mints (genus Mentha).

 

Large Marble, or Creamy Marblewing, Butterfly (Euchloe ausonides)

Ashland, southwestern Oregon
Ashland, southwestern Oregon

 

Euchloe ausonides is commonly known as creamy or large marblewing butterfly.

A New World native, Euchloe ausonides ranges from Alaska eastward to southwest Manitoba and southward to central California and northern New Mexico.

With a preference for sunny openness, Euchloe ausonides seeks out fields, hillsides, meadows, and valleys.

 

marbled underside of Large Marble Butterfly

Caribou Bog, near Nederland, southwestern Boulder County, north central Colorado
Caribou Bog, near Nederland, southwestern Boulder County, north central Colorado

 

The upperside of forewings are tipped with a pattern of black scattered with white.

Undersides of hindwings are marbled densely with green.

Wingspan is 1-1/2 to 2 inches (3.8 to 5.1 centimeters).

In addition to Allium schoenoprasum, Euchloe ausonides absolutely adores mustards (genus Brassica), which draw the petite beauty to many gardens. Dame’s rocket (Hesperis matronalis), clovers (genus Trifolium), and violets (genus Viola) are also favorites.

 

Orange sulphur (Colias eurthymeme)

Wildwood Preserve Metropark, Toledo, northwestern Ohio
Wildwood Preserve Metropark, Toledo, northwestern Ohio

 

Colias eurytheme is commonly known as orange sulphur butterfly.

This American native flutters from southern Canada to central Mexico.

A bicoastal denizen, Colias eurytheme flashes its colors everywhere in the continental states except for peninsular Florida.

Openness appeals to Colias eurytheme. Preferred habitats are alfalfa and clover fields, meadows, and roadsides.

 

undersides of Dainty Sulphur

Scarborough, eastern Toronto, southern Ontario, east central Canad
Scarborough, eastern Toronto, southern Ontario, east central Canad

 

Basic male coloring presents uppersides of rich orange to golden yellow bordered with black and distinguished with a dark black cell spot. Females may range from yellow to white with spots surrounded by irregular black borders.

Wingspan measures 1-3/8 to 2-3/4 inches (3.5 to 7 centimeters).

In addition to Allium schoenoprasum, Colias eurytheme enthuses over asters (genus Aster), butterfly bush (Buddleia davidii), marigolds (genus Tagetes), and mints (genus Mentha).

 

pastel profusion of Allium schoenoprasum

Botanical Garden Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Germany
Botanical Garden Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Germany

Allium schoenoprasum: a flavorful prize

 

Allium schoenoprasum provides gustatory pleasure to Homo sapiens as well as to butterflies. Fortunately, these faunal groupings in the kingdom Animalia dine on different parts of chives plants. Humans partake of the foliage, which is richly green and enhances culinary flavors. Butterflies, on the other hand, imbibe nectar from the lovely pastel flowers. Both derive great satisfaction as consumers of this pleasant, pleasing plant which, with its straightforward, graceful outlines, uplifts its surroundings, in the wild, in public or private gardens.

And as a delicious ingredient of faunal nourishment, Allium schoenoprasum appears to wish, to one and all: "Bon appétit!"

 

pastel perfection of Allium schoenoprasum

garden in Belgium
garden in Belgium

Acknowledgment

 

My special thanks to:

  • Talented artists and photographers/concerned organizations who make their fine images available on the Internet;
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University for superior on-campus and on-line resources.

 

chive blossom vinegar: a treat for humans!

Use fresh, dry chive blossoms; strain after 1 week.
Use fresh, dry chive blossoms; strain after 1 week.

Sources Consulted

 

"Acmon Blue Plebejus Acmon (Westwood, [1851])." Butterflies and Moths of North America > Species. Butterfly and Moth Information Network:  Kelly Lotts and Thomas Naberhaus. Web. www.butterfliesandmoths.org/

  • Available at:  http://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/species/Plebejus-acmon 

“Chive (Allium schoenoprasum L.).” Gernot Katzer’s Spice Pages. www.unigraz.

at/~katzer/engl/ 

Flora: A Gardener’s Encyclopedia. Volume I: A-K. Portland OR: Timber Press, 2003.

"Large Marble Euchloe ausonides (Lucas, 1852)." Butterflies and Moths of North America > Species. Butterfly and Moth Information Network:  Kelly Lotts and Thomas Naberhaus. Web. www.butterfliesandmoths.org/

  • Available at:  http://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/species/Euchloe-ausonides

"Marine Blue Leptotes marina (Reakirt, 1868)." Butterflies and Moths of North America > Species. Butterfly and Moth Information Network:  Kelly Lotts and Thomas Naberhaus. Web. www.butterfliesandmoths.org/

  • Available at:  http://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/species/Leptotes-marina

"Orange Sulphur Colias eurytheme (Boisduval, 1852)."  Butterflies and Moths of North America > Species. Butterfly and Moth Information Network:  Kelly Lotts and Thomas Naberhaus. Web. www.butterfliesandmoths.org/

  • Available at:  http://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/species/Colias-eurytheme

Ortho's All About Attracting Hummingbirds and Butterflies. Des Moines IA: Meredith Books, 2001.

Roth, Sally. Attracting Butterflies & Hummingbirds to Your Backyard. Rodale Organic Gardening Book. Emmaus PA: Rodale, 2001.

"Spring Azure Celastrina ladon (Cramer, 1780)." Butterflies and Moths of North America > Species. Butterfly and Moth Information Network:  Kelly Lotts and Thomas Naberhaus. Web. www.butterfliesandmoths.org/

  • Available at:  http://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/species/Celastrina-ladon

 

unfoldment of chives' pastel inflorescence: momentous event for butterflies

flowering chive
flowering chive
the end which is also the beginning
the end which is also the beginning

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Adult Keep Calm And Chive On Hooded Sweatshirt Hoodie

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Plush Stuffed Cat (Kit Kat) toy with I Love Chives T-shirt

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DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
Updated: 08/20/2014, DerdriuMarriner
 
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DerdriuMarriner on 05/05/2015

Mira, Butterflies are indicators of the environment but they also go through cycles of plentiful and thinning populations.
The main county library here seems to be on a butterfly path because, as I rest my eyes from the computer, I see them flying high up one wall of the high-soaring windows and, after a few moments, swooping down along the opposite wall of windows.
May butterflies return to Bucharest.

Mira on 04/29/2015

The butterflies are so pretty. I wonder where they all have gone here in Bucharest. Do you see butterflies when you visit parks in cities. I don't! Isn't that strange?

DerdriuMarriner on 11/25/2013

frankbeswick, Assuredly the bees appreciate your thoughtfulness in allocating some of your chives for them. Actions such as yours contribute to harmony and balance in nature and in the world. They say that bees recognize faces and silhouettes (probably voices as well!), so you aren't a stranger to the bees who make a "bee-line" for your chives.

frankbeswick on 11/25/2013

Chives are bee-friendly plants. I do not harvest them all on my plot, but leave some for the bees. You can see plenty of them feeding on the chive flowers.

The similarity of their leaves to rushes is due to the fact that rushes and members of the allium family [leeks,onions, chives] are a monocots, which is an order of plants that have long thin leaves and parallel veins.

DerdriuMarriner on 11/24/2013

2uesday, Definitely chives are cooperative about garden growing, including containers. Chives do seem to enjoy container growing, so they're also great for a window herb garden. Such a treat to grow chives, isn't it?

2uesday on 11/23/2013

Beautiful images of both the butterflies and the chive flowers. I grow chives and also decorative allium plants. Chives are not difficult to grow.

I have planted the chives in a container with the herbs as unless you look carefully they can look similar to the thrift plants I have.

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