Allium tuberosum (Chinese Chives)
|Also known as:||Garlic Chives|
|Habitat:||sun; gardens, roadsides, fields|
|Bloom season:||August - October|
|Plant height:||12 to 20 inches|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||none|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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Flowers are produced in a showy round cluster (umbel), about 2 inches across, at the tip of a sturdy, leafless stalk. Each cluster may have up to +50 buds though only a portion are open each day during the season's bloom progression. Each flower is about ¼ inch across with 6 star-like tepals (sepal and petals are undifferentiated), 6 stamens with prominent brown tips (anthers), and a single slender style in the greenish center. A thin greenish or purplish or brown midline on the backside of the tepals can be observed on the unopen buds. Each flower has a slender stalk about 1 inch long attaching it to the main stem. At the base of the cluster are 1 to 3 papery bracts.
Leaves and stems:
Leaves are basal, flat and linear, to 12 inches long and ¼ inch wide, smooth and waxy textured when young, a mild onion odor when crushed, and very floppy. The single flowering stem is round, nearly ¼ inch in diameter and solid through the center.
Distributed for cultivation for both its flowers and culinary purposes over the last thirty years, increasingly gardeners are noticing the highly aggressive streak in this onion species. I had this growing in my own backyard herb garden and now several years later still find it popping up here and there—seems it will not die... Not surprisingly then, it is also showing up on state weed lists. A prolific seed producer, it also multiplies by division and can form dense colonial mono-cultures over time. A high drought tolerance and herbicide resistance along with good cold hardiness likely means this will become another foreign place holder in our diminishing native ecosystems. Our images from 2011 were from the first naturalized population observed in Minnesota and provided the first herbarium record for this species in the State of Minnesota.
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Where to buy native seed and plants ↓
- Chinese Chives plants
- more flowers
- a roadside infestation of Chinese Chives
- garden-grown Chinese Chives
Photos by K. Chayka taken along Hwy 61 in southeast Redwing, Goodhue County. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Goodhue County and in a private garden in Anoka County.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?