Plants at a Glance: Scallions& Chives

February 8, 2008
Common name:
Scallion / chive
Spanish name:
Cebollina / cebollín
Latin name: Allium
cepa var. aggregatum /
A. schoenoprasum
Family: Liliaceae
Geo-distribution: Scallions or green dividing onions originated in the Near East; settlers from the Old World introduced them to the neotropics. They are found growing in home gardens from low to high elevations in Costa Rica. Chives, a close relative to scallions, are also well distributed.
Botanical Description: The scallion is noted for its long (up to 60 centimeters), green, hollow leaves, typical of the onions, which arise from numerous bulbs in the soil. These bulbs continually divide as new offshoots. There are many varieties of scallions, some with a red or white paper-like skin surrounding the bulbs. The flowers range in color from violet to white. Chives also come in many varieties and can be distinguished by their smaller (30 cm) green leaves and bulbs.
Medicinal Uses: Scallions and onions, like garlic, have been used for centuries as both food and medicine. Eating fresh scallions is a good way to prevent health problems. They have been proven effective in reducing high blood pressure and cholesterol, and are known to be a strong antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal agent.
Onion juice has been shown to inhibit numerous harmful microbes and fungi, including Candida albicans. Traditionally, fresh onion juice has been used to treat upper respiratory infections, including pneumonia, coughs, sore throats and bronchitis.
Thrush or yeast infections are also treated with onion juice. Recent research demonstrates that onion juice is also beneficial in aiding asthma, arthritis, cancer, circulatory problems, colds, flu, infections, insomnia, liver disease, sinusitis and ulcers.
Preparation: Adding plenty of fresh onion greens to your diet is an excellent way to help prevent health problems. For treating coughs, colds and flu, blend or extract the juice of several scallions, strain, and mix with 15-30 milliliters of honey in a clean glass container. This is an excellent home remedy for treating children, since the honey hides the pungent taste of the onion juice. Dosage: One to six tablespoons per day. You will also find that blending scallions and orange juice together provides a helpful health drink. Fresh onion juice can also be applied orally on the tongue in cases of yeast infection.
Gardening Notes: Scallions and chives are much easier to grow than the bulb onions you buy at the store. Leading agricultural supply stores offer seeds for planting in flats or cups in prepared potting soil. Though the seeds are slow to germinate and grow, once they are well established they can be transplanted to garden beds or containers with rich, fertile soil located in a sunny area.
Three months after planting, the onions will begin to produce new offshoots from the mother plant, which can provide a steady supply for replanting.
 

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