Wild chives is a tufted herb in the lily family (Liliaceae) with hollow leaves and lilac flower heads, rare in Denali, this species occurs along streams and in meadows near the eastern boundary of the park. Growing from a bulb with many fibrous roots, plants reach 20-50 cm tall. Leaves are basal and linear, sheathing the bulb at the base to one-third of the stem, round in cross-section and becoming hollow towards the tips. The flowering stalk is also hollow and round, 3-5 mm broad, producing one flower head. Wild chives' inflorescence is a rounded umbel, with many tightly clustered small pink-purple flowers. The petals are fused, with six acute lobes, light pink to purple with dark purple midveins. The flowers are perfect, with six purple anthers and one white style. In bud, the whole umbel is encased by two overlapping papery bracts, pale purple in color, faded but persistent during flowering. The flowers develop into capsules, which shatter in fall, releasing numerous black seeds. Plants are related to domestic onions and garlic and have a distinctly onion-like scent. No other plant in Denali has lilac flowers in a dense umbel with linear, onion-like basal leaves.
This perennial species flowers in mid-summer.
The flowers of wild chives are bisexual. Wild chives is self-compatible, but self-fertilization greatly reduces seed-set (Stevens and Bougourd 1988). Flowers are pollinated by bees or flies. The carpels develop into capsules, which shatter in fall, releasing numerous tiny black seeds to be dispersed by wind, water and gravity. Plants also spread vegetatively from rhizomes, forming large tufts.
The leaves of wild chives are commonly used as a kitchen herb, fresh or dried. It has been used to treat colds, flu, and address general ill health by consuming the raw or cooked plant material, or drinking juice extracted from the plant.
Wild chives is an incompletely circumpolar plant (circumboreal) that occurs across northern regions of the globe, except for Greenland. Outside of Alaska, its range extends to eastern Canada and New England, with scattered localities in the Great Lakes and western states, south to Colorado. Wild chives occurs occasionally across much of Alaska, reaching into the southern valleys of the Brooks Range and the northwest coast, and occurring over most of the interior. The species also occurs on Kodiak, in southcentral Alaska, and south to Coronation Island on the panhandle. Allium schoenoprasum is known from three localities in Denali, all near the eastern edge of the Park, in the Broad Pass region of the Alaska Range and near Park Headquarters.