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Knob celery, celery root, turnip-rooted celery.
Celeriac is a strain of celery having scientific name Apium graveolens var. rapaceum belonging to family Umbelliferae. The roots are used as cooked vegetable and shoots are eaten as raw salad.
Celeriac is native to the Mediterranean Basin. It is found growing wild in all temperate zones. It is widely cultivated in Germany and other European countries, North America, North Africa and southwest Asia.
Celeriac had medicinal and religious uses, mainly due to it’s bitter stalks, in some of the greatest civilizations including Italy, Greece and Egypt. It is mentioned in Homer’s Odessey of 850 B.C. It was known as selinon to Greeks. Celeriac achieved importance after French and Swiss botanists gave initial description around 1600 B.C. In 1623 it was first recorded as a food plant in France and became popular in Europe by the 17th century.
Apium graveolens L. var. rapaceum
Apium graveolens L. - wild celery
Apium L. – celery
Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
Spermatophyta – Seed plants
Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
Plantae – Plants
The plant looks like celery however the key difference is that in celeriac the root is developed into a mass resembling a turnip, is easier to grow and has the characteristic flavour of celery. The plant produces the large beet-like root, which is used as a vegetable and spice.
Originally celeriac had a disagreeable taste and odour but in the cultivated varieties these traits have entirely vanished. The essential oil has the odour and flavour of celery. The root has a brown skin with white interior. It is smaller than celery and has very dark green foliage. The flavour of the root tastes like a blend of celery and parsley. In ancient times celeriac was a medicinal crop but now it is predominantly food crop.
Monarch: A smooth skinned variety with succulent flesh.
Alabaster: A high yielding variety.
Prinz: It has a distinct aromatic flesh and is less susceptible to leaf diseases and ‘bolting’.
Some other varieties are Bergers White Ball, Snow White, Kojak, Giant Prague, Goliath Diamant, Anita, Dolvi, Ofir and more.
Value per 100.0g
Carbohydrate, estimated by difference
Total dietary fiber
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)
Cultivation of Celeriac
Celeriac grows in rich deep soil that is moisture holding, but well drained. Although celeriac plant needs moisture it fails to thrive in waterlogged soil conditions. A good well-drained sandy loam or silt loam soil is best suited for this crop. A pH range of 5.5–6.7 is suitable. Celeriac thrives best when the weather is relatively cool and with moderately well distributed rainfall during the growing season. Autumn and early winter best suit celeriac. It has good frost tolerance.
It is propagated through seeds. It requires a 120-day growing season. It can be cultivated either by direct sowing or transplantation. Celeriac can be directly seeded in mild climates. Seeds are sown about half a centimeter deep and the seedbed is kept moist until the seedlings emerge. Seeds are spaced 20–30 cm apart in rows placed at 60 cm apart.
Seeds are sown in greenhouses or hot beds at a temperature of 20–25 ∞C during early March. The required seed rate is about 200–250 gm per hectare. To encourage stocky plants the seeds are sown thinly. It takes around 21–25 days for germination of seeds. By June the plants attain height of six to nine centimeters are suitable for transplantation. Trimmed plants are then transplanted in the late spring when the weather is cool. Ideally the plants should planted in rows maintaining 20–30 cm of distance between them. The rows should be at least 60 cm apart.
The crop responds well to manures and fertilizers giving good yield. Per hectare requirement of fertilizers are as follows 12 tonne of compost, 200 kgs of Nitrogen, around 55 kg each of phosporus and potassium. As Celeriac is moisture loving plant it requires decent amount of water while growing. Immediately after planting it is irrigated to ensure optimum size and quality of the produce. It requires around 3 to 4 cms of water per week during dry periods.
When the roots have attained a diameter of at least five centimeters then it can be harvested. The full flavors develop only after it has received a frost. A fully mature plant has root of around 5–12 cm in diameter depending on the growing region. The harvesting season is October-November. Under normal cultivation practices a tuber yield of 15–20 t per hectare may be obtained.
The seeds have medicinal properties and are used as a tonic and an aphrodisiac. Celeriac contains water soluble fiber that lowers cholestrol thus it can reduce risk of heart attack. It is high in phosphorus, and is beneficial to nervous, lymphatic and urinary systems.
Celeriac is mainly used as a cooked vegetable or raw in salads but is usually boiled before use. It is used in innumerable recipes usually after blanching in boiled salt water for five minutes and cooled rapidly. It is also used as a garnish or stuffed as a major part of a meal. The leaf stalks after they are pulled off can be boiled and served like seakale. Many use celeriac in soups and stews.
- Test Guidelines for Celeriac. TG/74/4 published by International Union For The Protection Of New Varieties plants
- 75 Exciting Vegetables For Your Garden By Jack E. Staub, Ellen Buchert
- Prescription for Dietary Wellness By Phyllis A. Balch
- Handbook of herbs and spices Volume 3
- USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference
- Apium graveolens L. var. rapaceum (Mill.) Gaudin celeriac at The Plants Database ( United States Department of Agriculture)