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Similarities Between Chives, Leeks, and Scallions, Including Health Benefits

Updated on January 22, 2019

Chives, leeks, and scallions are herbaceous members of the Liliaceae or Lily family. So, it makes sense that they are quite similar in appearance, history, chemical components, health benefits, side effects, propagation, harvesting methods, and usage. Garlic, onion, and shallots also belong to this family.

Photos of Chives, Leeks and Scallions

Illustration, Chives
Illustration, Chives | Source
Organic Leeks
Organic Leeks | Source
Leek | Source
Bunch of Scallions
Bunch of Scallions | Source

Descriptive Look at Chives, Leeks, and Scallions


The Latin word for chive is ‘cepa’ which means ‘onion’ in English. Scientifically it’s called Allium schoenoprasum. Chive’s leaves are dark green, thin, mostly tubular (leaves of some varietals are flat), resemble blades of grass, and grow in bunches of about six inches to three feet in length. The circular flower clusters are purple, pink, or white depending on varietals, and bloom from late May to June. The small bulbs and roots are underground. Chives aroma and flavor are milder than that of onion and garlic. Popular species or varietals are Common chives, Garlic chives, and Giant Siberian chives.


The scientific name for leeks is Allium ampeloprasum. In some places, it is written as Allium porrum because that’s the most common species. The dark green, flat leaves form a tight roll in their white, thick stalks, which are at least twelve inches in length and two inches in diameter. The roots at the end are small and thin. When cut the herb resembles a lattice fan. The round flower clusters, depending on varietal, are white to light red and bloom in June and July. Leeks have a subtle onion flavor with a touch of sweetness and likewise the subtle aroma of onion, maybe shallots. Popular species are the Giant Musselburgh, King Richard, Lancelot Hybrid, and Bandit leek.


Scallions’ scientific name is Allium fistulosum. Scallions are also called green onions, spring onions (especially in the United States), Welsh onions, bunching onions, and baby green onions. Their leaves are green, tubular, hollow, and they reach about two feet in height. Stems are greenish except near roots. There they are as white as the tiny roots and slightly bulbous. The circular flower clusters are white and blossom in the summer. Scallions taste and aroma are a bit more intense than chives and leeks, but less intense than onions. Popular varietals are Evergreen White Bunching, Nabechan, Beltsville, Guardsman, and Red Beard.

History of Chives, Leeks, and Scallions


History tells us that chives have been around for at least 5,000 years. The herb was discovered in Asia and was later introduced to Europe and other parts of the world. Depending on region, they use chive as food, medicine, to ward off evil, tell fortunes, and ornamentally. Chives were also popular in paintings, for example, in the Van GoghMuseum in Amsterdam there is an oil painting titled Flowerpot with Chives, which was painted by Vincent Van Gogh in 1887.


Leeks were discovered circa 4,000 BC in Central Asia and the Mediterranean. The ancient Romans and Greeks herald the herb as a great throat healer. In fact, it is widely documented that the Roman Emperor Nero thought it made him a better singer. The Bible also mentions leeks in the Book of Numbers 11:5, and in 6th century AD, the citizens of Wales made leeks their national symbol with the belief that they won wars when their soldiers wore them in their helmets.


Scallions are native to Asia, mostly China, and were quite popular therapeutically. Written evidence indicates that the herb has been known for at least 2,000 years. Scallions were introduced to Europe in the 1600s.

Chemical Components Found in Chives, Leeks, and Scallions


Chives are rich in vitamins A, B-complex (thiamine/ B-1, riboflavin/ B-2, niacin/ B-3, pantothenic acid/ B-5, and folic acid/ B-9) C, K, and some E; minerals calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, sulfur, zinc and some copper, manganese, potassium; amino acids tryptophan, threonine, isoleucine, leucine, and lysine; flavonoids kaempferol, isorhamnetin, and quercetin; carotene; protein; and dietary fiber.


Leeks have huge quantities of vitamins A, B-complex (similar to chives), C, and E; minerals calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, and sulfur; flavonoids kaempferol; antioxidant polyphenols; protein; and dietary fiber.


Scallions purport to have healthy amounts of vitamins A, B-complex (as chives, leeks, and including pyridoxine/ B-6), C, and K; minerals calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, sodium, and sulfur; antioxidants kaempferol and quercetin; phytochemicals; and dietary fiber.

Chives, Leeks, Scallions Preference

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Health Benefits Provided by Chives, Leeks, and Scallions


Studies show that chive’s vitamins and minerals help prevent colds, flu, fevers; strengthen our immune and skeletal systems; facilitate in proper blood clotting; treat anemia; protect our vision, protect our digestive tract from bacteria, fungi, yeast, and parasites; maintain proper blood pressure balance and heart health; fight infections, and rheumatoid arthritis; reduce cholesterol, stress, and fatigue; and promote healthy skin, teeth, nails, and hair.

The antioxidant flavonoids help prevent cancers, diabetes, and other critical diseases, and protect our cells from free radical damage, toxins, and inflammation.

Protein, amino acids, and dietary fiber help our metabolism to function properly.

The dietary fiber also aids in weight maintenance and good digestion.

Topically, chives have been used to heal wounds and insect bites.


Leeks’ vitamins and minerals prevent colds, flu, fevers; treat infection including urinary tract, headaches, gout, nose bleeds, and anemia; support our cardio and vascular health; lower cholesterol; promote healthy bones, teeth, skin, nails, hair, and metabolism (along with protein); and prevent rheumatoid arthritis.

The antioxidant flavonoids help prevent cancers, diabetes, and other critical diseases, and protect our cells from free radical damage, toxins, and inflammation.

Dietary fiber aids in weight maintenance, good digestion, and boost metabolism. Topically, leeks have also been used to heal wounds and insect bites.


The vitamins and minerals in scallions have proven to aid in proper blood clotting; promote our coronary, digestive, skin, nails, and hair health; boost our bone health, immune system, and metabolism; protect our vision and protect our digestive tract from bacteria, fungi, yeast, and parasites; fight off infections including urinary tract, colds, flu, fevers, headaches, earaches, and arthritis; reduce cholesterol; lower and maintain proper blood pressure balance.

The antioxidant flavonoids and phytochemicals help prevent cancers, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and other critical diseases as well as protect our cells from free radical damage, toxins, and inflammation.

The dietary fiber aids in weight maintenance and good digestion.

Side Effects of Chives, Leeks, and Scallions

Pregnant and nursing women, people who suffer from kidney stones (the Allium herbs contain oxalates), and people on diuretic medications should exercise caution when consuming chives, leeks or scallions. Some people may also be allergic to the Allium family or develop dermatitis and increased sweating from eating them.

Propagation and Harvesting Methods of Chives, Leeks, and Scallions


Chives can be grown from seeds or bulbs and planted about seven inches apart. You can also start them indoors in containers. Chive requires full sun, some moisture, and a well-drained, fertile soil. Once mature, it’s recommended you separate the plant clumps every two to three years to prevent overcrowding. Frequent harvest is also suggested to entice new growth. Leaves should be cut from near the soil’s surface.


Leeks can be grown from seeds or bulbs but easier to grow from seeds. They should be sowed in sandy, fertile soil about six inches deep and six inches apart. If planting bulbs, the stem should be completely underground. Plants should be kept moist and weeded frequently. Harvest depends on when planted. Leeks planted in fall are harvested in spring and vice-versa and stalks should be at least one-inch thick. Loosen the soil at the base of the plant then gently lift it out.


Scallions can also be started indoors in late winter for a spring harvest. When planted outside, they need to go 12 inches deep in fertile, well-drained soil. Location should provide full sun, plants should be watered often, and surrounding area weeded. Like chives, the herb clumps should be thinned. It’s suggested that you harvest scallions when leaves reach five inches and continue harvesting every three or four weeks for new growth.

Uses for Chives, Leeks, and Scallions

Chives, leeks, and scallions are pretty much used in the same way and in similar cuisines. Besides garnish, they can be used raw or cooked in soups, sauces, gravies, dips, cheese, eggs, stews, stir-fry and other Asian dishes, salads, or as seasoning or flavoring for meat, poultry, fish, and vegetables. They are quite popular in French and German dishes too. Leaves, stems/ stalks, and flowers of chives are edible, while the green and white stalks and leaves of leeks and scallions are edible.

The colorful blossoms of chives, leeks, and scallions also make attractive ornamentals.

Chive Recipe: Pancake

Chive Recipe: Bread

Leeks Recipe: How to Make Potato Leek Soup

Leeks Recipe: Linguine with Pepper and Leek Cream

Scallion Recipe: Ginger and Scallion Sauce

Scallion Recipe: Best Cantonese Steamed Fish Fillet

Medical Disclaimer

This article is simply to provide information not suggestion of use for treating any ailment. Always consult your healthcare professional first.


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