Jump to navigation Jump to search
File:Snijselderij Apium graveolens.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Apiales
Family: Apiaceae
Genus: Apium
Species: graveolens
Binomial name
Apium graveolens


Apium graveolens is plant species in the family Apiaceae, and yields two important vegetables known as celery and celeriac. Cultivars of the species have been used for centuries, whilst others have been domesticated only in the last 200-300 years.[1]

Common names


Apium graveolens is used around the world as a vegetable, either for the crisp stems or fleshy taproot.

In temperate countries, celery is also grown for its seeds, which yield a valuable volatile oil used in the perfume and pharmaceutical industries. Celery seeds can be used as flavouring or spice either as whole seeds or, ground and mixed with salt, as celery salt. Celery salt can also be made from an extract of the roots.

It is used as a seasoning, in cocktails (notably to enhance the flavour of Bloody Mary cocktails), on the Chicago-style hot dog, and in Old Bay Seasoning. Celery is one of three vegetables considered the holy trinity (along with onions and bell peppers) of Louisiana Creole and Cajun cuisine. It is also one of the three vegetables (together with onions and carrots) that constitute the French mirepoix, which is often used as a base for sauces and soups.


The use of celery seed in pills for relieving pain was described by Aulus Cornelius Celsus ca. 30 AD.[2]

The whole plant is gently stimulant, nourishing, and restorative; it can be liquidized and the juice taken for joint and urinary tract inflammations, such as rheumatoid arthritis, cystitis or urethritis, for weak conditions and nervous exhaustion.[verification needed]

File:Celery seed.jpg
Celery seeds

The seeds, harvested after the plant flowers in its second year, are the basis for a homeopathic extract used as a diuretic. The extract is believed to help clear toxins from the system, so are especially good for gout, where uric acid crystals collect in the joints, and arthritis. They are also used as a mild digestive stimulant. The extract can be combined with almond or sunflower oil, and massaged into arthritic joints or for painful gout in the feet or toes.[verification needed]

The root is an effective diuretic and has been taken for urinary stones and gravel. It also acts as a bitter digestive remedy and liver stimulant. A tincture can be used as a diuretic in hypertension and urinary disorders, as a component in arthritic remedies, or as a kidney energy stimulant and cleanser.[verification needed]

Celery roots, fruits (seeds), and aerial parts, are used ethnomedically to treat mild anxiety and agitation, loss of appetite, fatigue, cough, and as an anthelmintic (vermifuge).[verification needed]


File:Celery cross section.jpg
Cross-section of a Pascal celery stalk.
  • Bergapten in the seeds could increase photosensitivity, so do not apply the essential oil externally in bright sunshine.
  • Avoid the oil and large doses of the seeds during pregnancy: they can act as a uterine stimulant.
  • Seeds intended for cultivation are not suitable for eating as they are often treated with fungicides.

Allergic responses

Although many people enjoy foods made with celery, a small minority of people can have severe allergic reactions. For people with celery allergy, exposure can cause potentially fatal anaphylactic shock.[3] The allergen does not appear to be destroyed at cooking temperatures. Celery root - commonly eaten as celeriac, or put into drinks - is known to contain more allergen than the stalk. Seeds contain the highest levels of allergen content. Celery is amongst a small group of foods (headed by peanuts) that appear to provoke the most severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis). An allergic reaction also may be triggered by eating foods that have been processed with machines that have previously processed celery, making avoiding such foods difficult. In contrast with peanut allergy being most prevalent in the US, celery allergy is most prevalent in Central Europe.[4]


Zohary and Hopf note that celery leaves and inflorences were part of the garlands found in the tomb of Tutankhamun, pharaoh of ancient Egypt, and celery mericarps dated to the 7th century BC were recovered in the Heraion of Samos. However, they note "since A. graveolens grows wild in these areas it is hard to decide whether these remains represent wild or cultivated forms." Only by classical times is it certain that celery was cultivated.[5]

M. Fragiska mentions another archeological find of celery, dating to the 9th century BC, at Kastanas; however, the literary evidence for ancient Greece is far more abundant. In Homer's Iliad, the horses of Myrmidons graze on wild celery that grows in the marshes of Troy, and in Odyssey there is mention of the meadows of violet and wild celery surrounding the cave of Calypso.[6]

A chthonian symbol, celery was said to have sprouted from the blood of Kadmilos, father of the Cabers, chthonian divinities celebrated in Samothrace, Lemnos and Thebes. The spicy odour and dark leaf colour encouraged this association with the cult of death. In classical Greece celery leaves were used as garlands for the dead, and the wreaths of the winners at the Isthmian Games were first made of celery before being replaced by crowns made of pine. According to Pliny the Elder (Natural History XIX.46), in Archaia the garland worn by the winners of the sacred contest at Nemea was also made of celery.[6]


Apium graveolens grows to 1 m tall. The leaves are pinnate to bipinnate leaves with rhombic leaflets 3-6 cm long and 2-4 cm broad. The flowers are creamy-white, 2-3 mm diameter, produced in dense compound umbels. The seeds are broad ovoid to globose, 1.5-2 mm long and wide.

In North America, commercial production of celery is dominated by a variety called Pascal celery. Gardeners can grow a range of cultivars, many of which differ little from the wild species, mainly in having stouter leaf stems. They are ranged under two classes, white and red; the white cultivars being generally the best flavoured, and the most crisp and tender.

The wild form of celery is known as smallage. It has a furrowed stalk with wedge-shaped leaves, the whole plant having a coarse, rank taste, and a peculiar smell. With cultivation and blanching, the stalks lose their acidic qualities and assume the mild, sweetish, aromatic taste particular to celery as a salad plant.

The plants are raised from seed, sown either in a hot bed or in the open garden according to the season of the year, and after one or two thinnings out and transplantings they are, on attaining a height of 15-20 cm, planted out in deep trenches for convenience of blanching, which is affected by earthing up to exclude light from the stems.

In the past, celery was grown as a vegetable for winter and early spring; because of its antitoxic properties, it was perceived as a cleansing tonic, welcomed after the stagnation of winter.



  • Celery contains androsterone, a hormone released through sweat glands said to attract women.
  • There is a common belief that celery is so difficult for humans to digest, that it has 'negative calories' because human digestion burns more calories than can be extracted. Snopes[2] believes this to be true, however at only 6kcal per rib, the effect is negligible. Celery is still valuable in diets, where it provides low-calorie fiber bulk.
  • The Class B Michigan-Ontario League, a minor league baseball league from the early 20th century, included a team called the Kalamazoo Celery Pickers.
  • Dr. Brown's makes a celery-flavoured soft drink called Cel-Ray.
  • Some pet rabbits eat a lot of celery. One may wonder if this means rabbits lose a lot of weight. However, a rabbit's natural flora of bacteria in their appendix includes micro-organisms which break down the cellulose in the celery into a form which the rabbit can absorb.
  • Exercise-induced anaphylaxis can be exacerbated by eating celery.
  • In the British science fiction series Doctor Who, the Fifth Doctor's costume included a piece of celery on the lapel. The reason for this was that he was allergic to certain gases in praxis range of the spectrum and in the presence of these gases, the celery turned purple. In this case, he ate the celery (for if nothing else he was sure it was good for his teeth).
  • The closely related Apium bermejoi from the island of Minorca is one of the rarest plants in Europe with only 60 individuals left.
  • The edible celery stalk is not a plant stem as often claimed. It is a petiole, which is part of a leaf.
  • Foley artists break stalks of celery into a microphone to simulate the sound of breaking bones.
  • Celery was banned from the Gillingham's Priestfield Stadium in 1996 after the goalkeeper complained of being struck by celery thrown by spectators.
  • Some people report that eating raw celery makes their tongues and mouths numb. (Possible allergic reaction)
  • Ancient Greeks once believed that the person who does not like celery also does not enjoy living.
  • Fans of Chelsea Football Club have been known to sing a saucy song in which they suggest they might use a "lump of celery" in order to tickle a lady's behind: "Celery, Celery, If she don't come, we'll tickle her bum with a lump of celery"
  • In the Nick Jr. and Noggin show The Wonder Pets,when the pets save an animal,they celebrate by eating celery as a congratulations gift.
  • In the Honor Harrington book series, the extraterrestrial sentient life forms known as treecats are absolutely addicted to celery.
  • There is a small farming community with the name Celeryville outside Willard, Ohio once known for its large yield of celery.

See also


  1. Daniel Zohary and Maria Hopf, Domestication of plants in the Old World, third edition (Oxford: University Press, 2000), p.202.
  2. Celsus, de Medicina, Thayer translation [1]
  3. Celestin J, Heiner DC. West J, Allergy and Immunology: Food-Induced Anaphylaxis. West. J. Med. 1993 Jun; 158(6): 610-611.
  4. Bublin M, Radauer C, Wilson IBH, Kraft D, Scheiner O, Breiteneder H and Hoffmann-Sommergruber K Cross-reactive N-glycans of Api g 5, a high molecular weight glycoprotein allergen from celery, are required for immunoglobulin E binding and activation of effector cells from allergic patients The FASEB Journal. 2003;17:1697-1699.
  5. Zohary and Hopf, Domestication, p.202
  6. 6.0 6.1 Fragiska, M. (2005). Wild and Cultivated Vegetables, Herbs and Spices in Greek Antiquity. Environmental Archaeology 10 (1): 73-82.

External links

Template:Herbs & spices

ar:كرفس bg:Целина ca:Api cs:Miřík celer de:Sellerie el:Σέλινο eo:Celerio hr:Celer id:Seledri it:Apium graveolens he:סלרי la:Apium lt:Salieras hu:Zeller nl:Snijselderij cr:Kashipekuashkuat no:Selleri sq:Selinoja scn:Accia sl:Zelena (zelenjava) sr:Целер sh:Celer fi:Selleri sv:Selleri uk:Селера yi:סעלערי