AskDefine | Define celery

Dictionary Definition



1 widely cultivated herb with aromatic leaf stalks that are eaten raw or cooked [syn: cultivated celery, Apium graveolens dulce]
2 stalks eaten raw or cooked or used as seasoning

User Contributed Dictionary



  • IPA: /ˈsel.ə.ri/, /"sEl.@.rI/



  1. A European herb (Apium graveolens) of the carrot family.
  2. The stalks of this herb eaten as a vegetable.


the stalks of this herb
  • Polish: seler

Extensive Definition

seealso Wild celery Apium graveolens is a 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. The petiole is the part consumed.


Celery was officially described by Carolus Linnaeus in Volume One of his Species Plantarum in 1753.
The closely related Apium bermejoi from the island of Minorca is one of the rarest plants in Europe with only 60 individuals left.


Apium graveolens is used around the world as a vegetable, either for the crisp petiole (leaf stalk) 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. Celery Salt 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. It is a staple in Chicken Noodle Soup.


The use of celery seed in pills for relieving pain was described by Aulus Cornelius Celsus ca. 30 AD.
The whole plant is gently stimulating, 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.
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.
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).


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 believes this to be true, however at only 6 calories per stalk, the effect is negligible. Celery is still valuable in diets, where it provides low-calorie fiber bulk. Celery contains androstenone, not androsterone . Bergapten in the seeds can increase photosensitivity, so the use of essential oil externally in bright sunshine should be avoided. The oil and large doses of seeds should be avoided 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. 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). Exercise-induced anaphylaxis may be exacerbated. 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 U.S., celery allergy is most prevalent in Central Europe. In the European Union, foods that contain or may contain celery, even in trace amounts, have to be clearly marked as such.


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.
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.

Cultural depictions

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.

See also


External links

celery in Arabic: كرفس
celery in Bulgarian: Целина
celery in Catalan: Api
celery in Persian: کرفس
celery in Cree: Kashipekuashkuat
celery in Czech: Miřík celer
celery in Danish: Bladselleri
celery in German: Sellerie
celery in Modern Greek (1453-): Σέλινο
celery in Esperanto: Celerio
celery in Spanish: Apium graveolens
celery in Finnish: Selleri
celery in French: Céleri
celery in Hebrew: סלרי
celery in Croatian: Celer
celery in Hungarian: Zeller
celery in Indonesian: Seledri
celery in Italian: Apium graveolens
celery in Japanese: セロリ
celery in Latin: Apium
celery in Lithuanian: Salieras
celery in Malay (macrolanguage): Daun Saderi
celery in Dutch: Snijselderij
celery in Norwegian: Selleri
celery in Polish: Seler zwyczajny
celery in Portuguese: Apium graveolens
celery in Russian: Сельдерей
celery in Sicilian: Accia
celery in Serbo-Croatian: Celer
celery in Slovenian: Zelena (zelenjava)
celery in Albanian: Selinoja
celery in Serbian: Целер
celery in Swedish: Selleri
celery in Thai: ขึ้นฉ่าย
celery in Turkish: Kereviz
celery in Ukrainian: Селера
celery in Vietnamese: Cần tây
celery in Yiddish: סעלערי
celery in Chinese: 芹菜
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