- Veggie Index
- Greens, Chard
- Greens, Collard
- Greens, Kale
- Greens, Mustard
- Onions, Bulbing
- Onion, Bunching
- Peppers, sweet
- Peppers, hot
- Squash, summer
- Squash, winter
- Brussels Sprouts
Scientific and Common Names
Apium graveolens var. dulce
Daniel Zohary and Maria Hopf note that celery leaves and inflorescences were part of the garlands found in the tomb of pharaoh Tutankhamun (died 1323 BC), 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.
The name celery retraces the plant’s route of successive adoption in European cooking, as the English celery (1664) is derived from the French céleri coming from the Lombard term, seleri, from the Latin selinon, borrowed from Greek. Celery’s Mediterranean origins are still commemorated in the French expression céleri d’Italie.
|Nutrient||Amount||% US RDA|
|Energy||176 kJ (42 kcal)||N/A|
|Dietary fiber||1.6 g||%|
|Niacin (Vit. B3)||0.320 mg||(4%)|
|Vitamin B6||.0.074 mg||(%)|
|Folate (Vit. B9)||36 mcg||(16%)|
|Vitamin C||3.1 mg||(149%)|
|Vitamin E||.27 mg||(%)|
|Vitamin K||29.3 mcg||(%)|
Percentages are relative to US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient database
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 the varieties 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 flavored, and the most crisp and tender.
Harvesting occurs when the average size of celery in a field is marketable; due to extremely uniform crop growth, fields are harvested only once. Petioles and leaves are removed and harvested celery are packed by size and quality (determined by color, shape, straightness and thickness of petiole, stalk and midrib length and absence of disease, cracks, splits, insect damage and rot). Under optimal conditions, celery can be stored for up to seven weeks between 0 to 2 °C (32 to 36 °F). Inner stalks may continue growing if kept at temperatures above 0 °C (32 °F). Freshly-cut petioles of celery are prone to decay, which can be prevented or reduced through the use of sharp blades during processing, gentle handling, and proper sanitation. When wrapped in aluminum foil, the stalk will stay fresh for several weeks.
Apium graveolens is used around the world as a vegetable, either for the crisp petiole (leaf stalk) or the fleshy toproot.
In temperate countries, celery is also grown for its seeds. Actually very small fruit, these “seeds” yield a valuable volatile oil used in the perfume and pharmaceutical industries. They also contain an organic compound called apiol. Celery seeds can be used as flavoring 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. Celery salt is used as a seasoning, in cocktails (notably to enhance the flavor of Bloody Mary cocktails), on the Chicago-style hot dog, and in Old Bay Seasoning.
Celery, onions, and bell peppers are the holy trinity of Louisiana Creole and Cajun cuisine. Celery, onions, and carrots make up the French mirepoix, often used as a base for sauces and soups. Celery is a staple in many soups, such as chicken noodle soup.
Celery is used in weight-loss diets, where it provides low-calorie dietary fiber bulk. Celery contains androstenone. Celery seeds are also a great source of calcium, and are regarded as a good alternative to animal products.