Apium graveolens Linn.
Family : Umbelliferae; Apiaceae
The celery plant (Apium graveolens)
is a hardy biennial, occasionally annual, widely cultivated for
its fleshy leafstalk , which is used as a vegetable. Celery seeds,
which are produced in the second season, are commonly used as a
flavouring agent. Separate varieties have been developed for the
production of seeds for condiment use and for vegetable celery.
There are also root-producing varieties that are used for flavouring
soups and stews.
Celery, a herbaceous annual or biennial
plant of the carrot, parsley and caraway family and is native to
southern Europe. In India, it is occurring wild and also is cultivated
in the foothills of northwestern Himalayas and the outlying hills
of Punjab, Himachel Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. Roots are succulent,
well developed and numerous. Stems are branching, angular, jointed
and reaching a height of 2-4 m. Leaves are oblong, 7-18 cm long,
pinnate or trifoliate. It throws up a flower head in the second
year producing masses of fruits. The flowers are white or greenish
white, very small on sessile compound umbels. The fruit itself is
two united carpels which each produce a single seed. The seed is
small, about 1-2 mm in length, oval and greenish brown.
Celery requires a rich moist soil
and considerable care, both in starting the young plants and in
bringing them to maturity. Plants may be grown indoors or in a prepared
seedbed and, when large enough, transplanted to rows 90cm apart
and spaced 10-15 cm apart in the row. Seeds may also be sown directly
in the garden early in spring and the plants later thinned to 2
or 3 per 30 cm. For seed purposes the plants must be well mulched
with straw or litter to prevent winter killing when there is a severe
freezing. In the first season, the tender leaves and leaf stalks
may be used either fresh or dry for flavouring purposes. The seed
umbels form on long flower stalks that develop during the second
season and are harvested when mature. The root-producing varieties
can be handled in the same manner as parsnips for winter use. The
fruiting umbels can be dried either in the shade or sun and the
seeds separated by threshing and stored in closed containers. The
young tender leaves when dried possess a flavour similar to that
of the fresh leaves and stalks.
Celery contains 1.5-3% volatile oil,
primarily containing about 60-70 % d-limonene and 10-20% b-selinene.
The oleoresin extracted from celery contains 12-16% volatile oil.
The seeds contain apiin, apigenin, caffeic acid and chlorogenic
acid. Several other substances like rutaractin, apiumetin etc. are
Aroma and flavour
The seeds can be used in pickling
fish and in salads, salad dressings, and other dishes where celery
flavour is desired. Ground celery is used in a large variety of
products like meat dishes, snack foods, gravies and sauces to provide
a flavour enhancing effect. The leafstalks and roots give flavour
as well as food value to soups and salads.
Blanched celery leaves are eaten
raw or cooked as a vegetable. Whole seeds can be added to bread
dough or when making cheese biscuits. Celery salt and celery pepper
are both made by grinding the seeds with either salt or peppercorns
in the required proportions.
Medicinal and other use
Celery seeds have stimulant and
carminative properties. Since they have tranquilizing effect it
is prescribed as a decoction in psychiatric, epilepsy like diseases.
The fatty oil from seeds is antispasmodic and nerve stimulant. The
roots possess diuretic property. The oleoresin is also used in a
large variety of food items. The oil from the seeds is used medically
to treat asthma, flatulence and bronchitis.