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Celery -Apium graveolens

Updated on September 22, 2012
Apium graveolens L.
Apium L.
Apiaceae (Carrot family)
Magnoliopsida (Dicotyledons)
Magnoliophyta (Flowering plants)
Spermatophyta (Seed plants)
Tracheobionta (Vascular plants)
Plantae (Plants)
Scientific Classification of Celery (Source: United States Department of Agriculture)

Celery plant is scientifically known as Apium graveolens L. belongs to the family Apiaceae (also known as Umbelliferae). It is an aromatic, herbaceous plant cultivated mostly for its’ fresh leaves, seeds (actually fruits of very small size), oleoresin and essential oil. Fresh leaves of celery find wide application in salads across the world.

Celery is popular due to its characteristic flavor and texture. Celery is also used for making a number of processed products that have huge demand in Europe, Asia and North America. Celery and products derived from celery are part of traditional and modern medicine. It is known for its anti-rheumatic, antispasmodic, diuretic, hypotensive and anti-inflammatory effects on human body.

Synonyms of Celery

Indian languages
Shalari, Ajmud, Randhuni
Bandhuri, Chanur
Source: Spices Board (Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Govt. of India) 1

Geographical Source

It is difficult to ascertain the origin of celery. Wild forms are easily found in marshy areas across temperate Europe and Western Asia. Although the eastern Mediterranean region appears to be the most logical center of domestication, the distribution of wild types raises some doubt. 2

California, Florida, Michigan and New York are key celery producing states in U.S.A, whereas in Europe France, Germany, UK, Hungary, Italy, Belgium and Holland are the key producers. Celery is cultivated for seed as spice predominantly in India, southern France, China and Egypt. India is the major producer and exporter of celery seed in the world market, which is partly used for extraction of seed oil and oleoresins.4

Wild Celery illustration (source: Britton, N.L., and A. Brown. 1913. An illustrated flora of the northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions. 3 vols. Charles Scribner's Sons, New York. Vol. 2: 660.)
Wild Celery illustration (source: Britton, N.L., and A. Brown. 1913. An illustrated flora of the northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions. 3 vols. Charles Scribner's Sons, New York. Vol. 2: 660.)


Celery is an erect growing herbaceous annual or biennial. A mature celery plant attains height of 1 to 1.5 m. The plant is marked with conspicuous branches bearing well-developed leaves on long expanded petioles. Stems are branched, angular or fistular and conspicuously jointed. Leaves are radical, pinnate, deeply divided into three segments, once or twice divided and toothed at apex. The leaflets are ovate to suborbicular, 3-lobed, 2–4.5 cm long.

Celery bears white color flowers that are small in size. Calyx teeth are obsolete; five petioles ovate, acute with tip inflexed; carpels semiterete, subpentagonal, primary ridges distinct and filiform. The fruit of celery plant is a schizocarp with two mericarps, suborbicular to ellipsoid, 1–2 mm in diameter, aromatic and slightly bitter. The seed (mericarp) results from the splitting of schizocarp (fruits) and is also ribbed.

Celery seeds are very small, dark brown and emit a characteristic odour. The seeds are used as a spice in India and a condiment in the USA. The seeds give a burning sensation and are bitter.


In Greece celery mericarps belonging to 700 BC were found in Heraion of Samos. Although it is difficult to ascertain weather it was deliberately put there of was a naturally occurring wild form. 3Celery leaves were found in the garlands at the tomb of pharaoh Tutankhamun who died in 1323 BC indicating its use at least in rituals. 3 Celery also finds place in mythological and literary books of ancient Greece.

There is no evidence of widespread cultivation of celery till the middle ages, although ancient Greek literature documents that celery was cultivated before 850 BC. Celery was initially cultivated in the lowlands of Italy and later spread to other European nations like France and England. The first mention of its cultivation in France was reported in 1623 AD. Celery plants that are cultivated and consumed today are a quite sweet, appetizing and wholesome, however its’ wild ancestors were considered poisonous. The ancients associated celery with funerals and believed it to be a bad luck omen. The French brought celery to India in AD 1930 through a trading company in Amritsar in Punjab. It is now widely cultivated for seeds and spice in and around Punjab.

Before getting wide acceptance as a food item celery plants were used for medicinal purposes since ancient times. The early forms of celery having an adaptation to its marshy origins, had a tendency to produce hollow stems and petioles. Due to selection of more edible varieties during domestication celery transformed from heritable characteristic and reduced the associated bitter and strong flavour.

Celery seeds found application in traditional systems of medicine in the Middle East since ancient times. However, the use of celery seed oil has come about with the development of the processed food industry, as the oil is widely used as food favorer in the USA and Europe.

Types of Celery

Celery types are generally classified based on the characteristic features of the plant, like

  1. Color of the foliage: green or yellow/golden
  2. Blanching habit: early or late
  3. Bolting behaviour: slow or quick
  4. Suitable climate for Growth : temperate or sub-tropical
  5. Life cycle: annual or biennial
  6. Height of the plant: tall, intermediate or dwarf
  7. Season of plantation: autumn or winter

On the basis of horticultural types Apium graveolens L. was classified by Orton5

  1. Apium graveolens var. dulce – blanched celery
  2. Apium graveolens var. rapaceum – edible rooted celery
  3. Apium graveolens var. secalinum – leafy type (smallage type)

Apium graveolens var. secalinum is considered to be the most popular celery in Asian and Mediterranean regions.2 Of the above three morphotypes of celery, Apium graveolens var. secalinum (smallage type) has been reported to be commonly cultivated in India for seeds as spices and behaves annual in growth habit .

Celery Plant
Celery Plant | Source

Cultivars of Celery

The cultivars of celery are generally classified as yellow/golden varieties called ‘self blanching’ varieties or green varieties with dark green foliage. The green varieties can be further divided into two groups, early and easy to blanch; late and slower to blanch. A florida based company Duda Farm Fresh Foods recently introduced a celery with red stock in U.S.A..

The most important varieties are mentioned in Table below.

Celery Cultivars

Cultivar Name
Introducing Breeder
Not known
Golden Self Blanching
European Origin
Tall and Dwarf Strains
Not known
Easy Blanching
European Origin
Tall, yellow, Good Blight Resistance, hardier, harvested later than Golden.
Not known
White Plume
European Origin
On blanching white petioles, earlier than Golden, Cumbersome storage.
Michigan Golden
G. H. Coons and Ray Nelson, Michigan State University
Too green for effective blanching, Yellows resistant
Curly leaf self blanching
Ray Nelson and C.C. Cochran,Michigan State University
Yellow resistant
Non Bolting-Golden Plume, Golden Pascal, Crispheart, Golden Supreme
Ferry Morse Seed Co.
Under feild conditions it resists premature seed stalk formation.
Cornell 19
Cornell University, USA
Resistant to Fusarium yellows, Smooth, self blanching petioles, good quality
Cornell 619
Cornell University, USA
In additon to Cornell 19 features, it adapted well to USA, Canadian and North Europian Climates
Golden Spartan
Michigan State University
pale-green-stemmed, very productive, good bolting tolerance, self-blanching celery, long, smooth thick ribs with excellent taste.
Not Known
Giant Pascal
Green Celery -Pre Utah
Tall, Readily blanched, the orignal green celery
Not known
Winter Queen
Green Celery -Pre Utah
U.S origin
Looks like Golden Self Blanching type but Dark green in color, dwarf type
Green Celery -Pre Utah
W. Atlee Burpee & Co.
A good winter type with good strorage charecteristics.
Summer Pascal
Green Celery -Pre Utah
Massachusetts field station, University of Massachusetts, waltham
full hearted with dark green foliage, thick, rounded, smooth, dark green, easy blanching, productive and adapted to eastern climate.
Tall Utah 52-10B
Ferry Morse Seed Co.
Widely adapted, Rusarium yellows resitant, smooth, thick, round pedicles, Heavy compact hearts.
Asgrow Seed Company
Resistant to bolting and pithiness, adapted to costal regions of california
Tall Utah 52-70R
Utah- Crystal Jumbo Subtype
Ferry Morse Seed Co.
Good Heart Formation, vigrous, tall growing leafs, dark green
Florida 683
Utah- Crystal Jumbo Subtype
Florida Agriculture State, Belle Glade
Higher rib count than Utah 52-70,medium green,better heart formation and Bushy.
Clean Cut
Utah- Crystal Jumbo Subtype
Joseph Harris Seed Company
Adapted to northen teir muck soil, Slow growing variety, Large petioles.
Utah- Crystal Jumbo Subtype
Moran seed company
Adapted to californian valleys, Very dark green petioles towards base, tolerant to furasium yellow
Pascal 259-19
Summer-Pascal Type
Ferry Morse Seed Co.
Long ribbed, rounded, Like summer pascal but adaptive to diverse climatic conditions, dark green and taller.
Summer-Pascal Type
Ferry Morse Seed Co.
Wide adaptation, resistant to magnisium yellows and brown checks, dark green deep petioles.
Spartan 162
Summer-Pascal Type
Michigan Agricultural Exploration State
Selected from Cornell 19, resistant to Magnesium yellows, slow bolting
Summer-Pascal Type
Ferry Morse Seed Co.
tall cylindrical habit, slow to bolt, tolrates cercospore blight
Summer-Pascal Type
Ferry Morse Seed Co.
Resistant to Boron and Magnesium deficiencies, Similar to FMD-5
Green no. 12
Slow bolting type
Ferry Morse Seed Co.
For out of season planting
Green no. 96
Slow bolting type
Ferry Morse Seed Co.
Grows in areas where others don't , tolrates winter well.
Some popular cultivars of Celery, Adapted from Vegetable Production edited by Ib Libner Nonnecke

How to Grow Celery

Climates where mean temperatures range between 16oC and 21oC with well distributed rainfall with resources of irrigation are best suited for growing celery. The soil should be fertile with good moisture holding capacity. Peat and clay loam soils are usually well suited for production though it is reported to be cultivated in a wide range of soils.

Soil Type and pH

Ideal pH range varies for soil type for e.g pH range of 6.0–6.6 is best for growing celery in mineral soils whereas pH of 5.5–6.0 is ideal for growing celery in organic soils. Celery is moderately sensitive to salinity In Ohio and Michigan celery is grown on muck soils for fresh market 62. The celery seed crop under Indian conditions in Punjab is grown on soils with an average pH of around 7.5.

Fertilizer Requirements

Commercial fertilizers are employed to improve soil fertility for growing celery. Supplemental nutrient applications averaging about 300 kg N, 75 kg P2O5 and 250 kg K2O ha-1 are used on mineral soils. Fertilizers can be used up to 220–450 kg of N, 120 kg P2O5 and 180 kg K2O ha-1 depending upon fertility and type of soil. About half the nitrogen and all phosphorus and potassium are applied at the time of planting and the remainder used as side dressing 7. Physiological disorders such as cracked stem, black heart and leaf chlorosis may be checked with application of boron, calcium and magnesium for controlling deficiency 2. The seed crop requires fertilizer dose of 90 kg N, 40 kg P2O5 and 20 kg K2O ha-1 for annual cultivars under semi-arid agro-climatic conditions in India 8.

A note about Celery Seed Germination

Celery seeds are shy in nature and are slow to germinate even in favorable conditions. Celery seeds are thermo dormant and photo dormant hence show retarded or no germination at temperatures above 25 oCor in absence of light. A seed soaking treatment at 10 oC using growth regulators GA 4/7 or ethephon at 1000 ppm can overcome this dormancy9. The germination percentages in very dormant seeds can be improved by exposing it to sunlight or far red light. For better germination the seeds should be sown shallow in fields where sunlight is adequate. Thermo dormancy and photo dormancy of celery seeds have been discussed in depth in Seeds Handbook, Marcel Dekker Inc Pub, New York, USA .

A Celery Field(Courtesy: Steve Bottorff and Pat Moyer)
A Celery Field(Courtesy: Steve Bottorff and Pat Moyer) | Source

Plantation Methods

Both transplants and direct seeding in the field are used to plant celery plants. The time of sowing is determined on the basis of crop to be raised for fresh herb or seeds. In California where climate is Mediterranean, seedbeds are prepared in July or sometimes December–January. After around 8–12-weeks the seedlings are transplanted in a well-prepared field.

In regions where winters are more severe, celery seeds are sown in a greenhouse or hot beds and seedlings are dug in the autumn, rouged for off type and cold stored until planting time in spring. The tops are stored at 0 oC and 90–95% Relative Humidity, maintaining moisture and good ventilation around the roots. The roots are placed in moist soil. The withered and decayed leaves should be removed when plants are transplanted at distance of about 90 cm between rows. The closer spacing results in higher seed yields. In some coastal areas of California, celery is seeded directly in the production beds.

In the Punjab province of India celery is primarily grown as seed spice. It is grown during September–October and transplanted from mid-December to the first week of January 12.The row spacing of 40 cm gave maximum seed yield. Celery crops yield about 60–70 t/ha as the fresh herb whereas seed yield of 2–4 q/ha can be obtained from crops grown exclusively for the purpose, respectively.

Cercospora leaf spot of celery caused by Cercospora apii
Cercospora leaf spot of celery caused by Cercospora apii | Source

Common diseases and pests affecting celery

The celery crop is more susceptible to diseases when compared to insects. Generally leaf minor (Liriomyza trifolii) and celery fly (Euleia brercolai) may cause occasional damage. Carrot rust fly (Psila rosae) may also cause rare but occasional damage. The important diseases of celery include early blight caused by a fungal pathogen called Cercospora apii, late blight caused by fungi Septoria apii, Fusarium yellows caused due to Fusarium apii and F. apii f.sp. pallidum. Other common diseases and their causative organisms are stem rot caused by Rhizoctonia solani, bacterial blight caused by Bacterium apii, aster yellow infections, celery mosaic virus or cucumber mosaic virus infections and nematodes. Pre cultivation soil samples helps to determine the need of fumigation for nematode control. The diseases and insect pests of celery crops can be controlled using chemical and biological methods.


The fresh herb crop should be considered ready for harvest when distance between stalks from the soil line to first node are at least half feet long. The crop generally takes anything between 85 to 120 post transplantation; the seeded crops take 30 to 40 days more than the transplanted ones. Average yields with a good quality cultivar should be around 25 to 35 tons of herb per acre. The plants are either pulled off or cut below the soil surface along with petioles attached to the base. Normally, the salad crop is cut, trimmed and packed in the field. Mechanical harvesters are also used for harvesting of celery petioles. 6

The seed crop of celery behaves biennially in a temperate climate and annually in a tropical to sub-tropical climate. It takes five months to reach seed maturity in plains. Celery seed is usually ready to harvest from August to early September under United State conditions whereas, it is harvested in April–May in Indian plains. The harvested crop is cured in the sun before threshing for seeds. The shattering of seed is a common problem and can be avoided by timely harvesting of seed in the morning hours or by spraying poly vinyl acetate (PVA) glue on seed umbels. 10,11

Celery harvesting and packing in a temprory field plant. (Courtesy: Steve Bottorff and Pat Moyer)
Celery harvesting and packing in a temprory field plant. (Courtesy: Steve Bottorff and Pat Moyer) | Source

Post-harvest handling

Post-harvest operations such as removal of small lateral branches and damaged leaves, packaging and pre-cooling are conducted to prepare the harvest for markets. The fresh herbs are stored mainly for short periods to increase availability and to avoid a glut in the market. North Carolina State University horticulture information leaflet on Commercial celery production in Eastern North Carolina recommends pre-cooling of celery in order to remove field heat immediately after harvesting. Methods that can be employed for pre-cooling celery are hydrocooling, refrigerated forced air, or vacuum cooling. The fresh harvested crop should be cooled to 0 oC before shipping it further. Celery should be shipped butts upward to prevent water accumulation and butt discoloration.

Optimum storage conditions for celery fresh herb are 0 o C and a high RH(95%). Controlled atmospheric storage can be used to maintain marketable quality for relatively long periods. Such storage conditions require a temperature of 0 oC and high RH in an atmosphere of 1–2% O2, 4% CO2 and with facility of ethylene removal. 13

Celery crop cultivated for seeds are harvested and then dried in a thin layer for one or two days before carrying out light threshing to separate the seeds. The shade-dried seed contains more oil content than the sun dried seed. The seed can be cleaned easily with a screening mill followed by a gravity separator. The seeds are cleaned, graded through sieving and stored in gunny bags in a cool dry place. The yield of celery seeds is around 1.4 tonnes/ha. The fresh seed should be taken to an oil extraction unit for more recovery of volatile oil content.

Celery seed oil is produced by steam distillation. The seed should be crushed and immediately sent for distillation to avoid evaporation losses. Care should be taken in steam distillation to avoid channelling of steam. It takes 10–12 hours for distillation of one batch. Average oil yield under Indian condition has been reported as being 2– 2.5% depending upon the quality and quantity of seed and approximately 20–30 kg of celery oil is extracted from one hectare . The distillation wastes are usually redistilled. Indian seeds give a better yield of oil compared to French seed.

Aroma chemicals in celery seed oil

n-butyl phthalide
Cinnamic aldehyde
Geranyl acetate
Pentyl benzene
(Cis) beta-Ocimene
Aroma chemicals in celery seed oil determined using Gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC-MS) 16

Chemical Composition and Nutritional Value

The chemical composition varies in different portions of the plant and stage of the plant development. Chemical composition of leaves, stalks, seeds and volatile oil are characteristic to plant, however quantity may vary according to cultivar, geography, cultivation, harvesting, and post harvest handling methods.

The chemical constituents extracted from the roots of Apium graveolens var. rapaceum contained butylphthalide and z-butylide nephthalide, cnidilide, E and Z-ligustilide, neocnidilide and senkyonolide and Apium graveolens var. dulce were 4-phthalides butylphthalide, neocnidilide, cnidilide, z-lingustilide and senkyonolide and 14.

Celery seeds contain 1.5 to 3% volatile oil responsible for the characteristic aroma of celery seed oil. The chemical constituent of celery seed volatile oil was found to be 60–70% limonene, phthalides and β-salinene, coumarins, furanocoumarins (bergapten) and flavonoids (apiin). 15 Further aroma chemical present in celery seed oil were determined using Gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC-MS) and a number of aromatic compounds were found as given in table here. 16

When oil was extracted at the flowering stage from the fresh aerial parts of celery it was found to contain α and β-pinene, myrcene, transfarnesene, humulene, limonene, cis-β-ocimene, Gterpenene, trans-β-ocimene, apiol, β-selinene, senkyuonlide and neocnidilide17.

Nutrient Value for Edible Portions of Celery

Edible portion of Raw Celery (Value per 100.0g)
Celery Seeds (Value per 100.0g)
Total lipid (fat)
Carbohydrate, by difference
Fiber, total dietary
Sugars, total
Potassium, K
Calcium, Ca
Magnesium, Mg
Phosphorus, P
Sodium, Na
Iron, Fe
Zinc, Zn
Vitamin A, IU
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid)
Folate, DFE
Vitamin B-6
Vitamin B-12
micro grams
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)
Vitamin D (D2 + D3)
micro grams
Vitamin D
Vitamin K (phylloquinone)
micro grams
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated
Fatty acids, total saturated
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated
Nutritional value of celery (Source: National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 24)
Celery Seeds
Celery Seeds | Source
Close up of celery seeds
Close up of celery seeds

Celery products and Uses

Celery is a popular food item due to its characteristic flavor and texture. It is a common ingredient used of salad. Celery is also used for making a number of processed products that have huge demand in Europe, Asia and North America.

Slices of celery stalks are marketed in freeze-dried form. The original shape and crispness of celery is retained to a greater extent in freeze dried celery. These slices of freeze dried celery are used as crisp garnish for potato salad, casseroles, Chinese dishes, gelatin salad, pickles and relishes. Overall quality for retention of nutrients is better in freeze-dried celery petioles.

Celery stalk and leaves are dehydrated and are marketed as, celery stalk dice, leaf and stalk flakes, stalk and leaf granules and celery powder. These products made of dehydrated celery find application in flavoring soups, broth base, canned tuna fish, stuffings and stewed tomatoes and as a garnish on potato salad and meat sauces. Products made using celery stalk retain a deep green colour thus give a sense of freshness. Minute amount of sodium bisulphite or sodium sulphite is added to celery stalk product as it aids in protecting green colour.

Celery flakes are used in dry soup mixes, canned soups, sauces, stuffings, casserole products and vegetable specialities. Granulated or powdered celery is a good choice for canned and frozen sauces and dry mixes for bread and soups. Crosscut and diced celery is used in canned and frozen soups, relishes, vegetable specialties and salad mixes.

Another popular marketed product of celery is its juice blends, made in combination with vegetables. Organic celery and tomato; organic celery and carrot juice blends are becoming popular as nutritious drinks and have been reported to function as a cleansing drink that is good for recovery from many chronic illnesses.

Celery petioles can be pickled and stored effectively. Celery petioles are also processed for the preparation of pickling. Generally pickles are prepared from processed celery due to relative ease. Commercial pickle manufacturers use stalk celery and root celery or their blends for preparation of pickle. In the pickling process the tender petioles of celery are cured in dry brine and subsequently preserved by using spices and condiments or vinegar. Celery petiole pickling can also be prepared in mixing with other vegetables and mixed pickling can be prepared. Pickled celery is known as a good appetizer.

Canned celery in prepared commercially in many countries. Canning of celery involves sorting and grading, washing, peeling, coring and pitting, blanching. After these steps celery is can filled and brined. Usually canned celery is processed at high temperatures 115–121 oC(high pressure of 10–15 lb/inch2) in the autoclave. The temperature and time of processing vary with size of can. Celery petioles are usually canned for later use in the off season or in combinations in canned soups, meats and culinary sausages.

Celery seed and its extractives are used as a condiment for flavouring purposes in the food industry and some pharmaceutical industries.

Celery whole seeds are employed as a flavoring spice for seasoning dishes where fresh celery stalks would be impractical to add. Celery seed are used to enhance flavor of many dishes including tomato and other vegetable juices, bouillons, pea soup, chicken and turkey soups, coleslaw, pickles, scrambled eggs and omelettes, chicken and tuna casseroles, salads and salad dressing, seafood chowders, sandwich spread and on cucumber, cabbage and beets. Celery seed has its importance in the food processing industry worldwide and is used in many Balkan, French, English, American and Asiatic recipes.

The whole seed is the raw material used for making celery seed oils and oleoresins. These products find wide application in flavoring foods, beverages, perfumery and as medicinal ingredient in the pharmaceutical industry.

Celery seed oil finds its major use in the flavouring of all kinds of prepared foods such as soups, meats, pickles and vegetable juices. The oil also finds use in perfumery and the pharmaceutical industry. The aroma of celery seed oil is warm, spicy, fruity and persistent.

Another celery product that finds wide application is celery oleoresin it imparts a warm, aromatic and pleasing flavour to food products. The principal constituents of celery oleoresin are essential oil, organically soluble resins and other related materials present in the original spice. Celery oleoresins are extensively used in processed foods, snacks, sauces, sausages, seafood, vegetable preparations and alcoholic/non-alcoholic beverages. The oleoresin of celery seed is prepared by extraction of crushed dried celery seeds with suitable volatile solvents like food grade hexane ethanol, ethyl acetate or ethylene dichloride, filtration and desolventization under vacuum. The organic solvent should be recovered completely from the oleoresin as per the ISO, as well as the standards of importing countries with their fixed maximum permissible limits for the approved solvents. Oleoresins could rightly be considered as ‘liquid celery seed’ which is easier to handle in the preparation of tinctures and extracts. Celery seed oleoresin is a green liquid having a volatile oil content of about 9 ml/100 g and is free flowing with a herbal, slightly lemony and bitter flavour. The Indian types of celery oleoresin have been reported to be more herbal with a pleasant lemon-like aroma and tenacious herbal undertones.

Celery seed powder also has culinary application, it is used in food items for flavouring purpose such as salad dressings, soups, sausages, vegetable juices and pickles. The celery powder of seed has its importance in the food processing industry worldwide and is used in many Balkan, French, English, American and Asiatic recipes. Celery seed powder can be sprinkled over salads, soups, sausages, juices, eggs and fish dishes. Celery powder is produced by milling or grinding the dried seeds. The loss of the characteristic aroma of celery powder occurs in the process of grinding. Therefore, to overcome the loss of volatiles, pre-chilling and reduced temperature grinding are used.

Another use of celery is in preparation of commercial celery salt prepared by mixing finely ground table salt with ground celery seed or celery seed oleoresin or ground dried celery stems.

Health Benefits of Celery

Celery leaf petioles and seeds are rich source of bulk vitamins and minerals. The fresh leaves and stalks are rich in protein, fat, fibre, carbohydrate, minerals and vitamins. In addition to being a healthy food celery has a number of heath benefits too. Celery seeds and extractives found application in traditional medical systems. Celery is known antirheumatic, antispasmodic, diuretic, hypotensive and anti-inflammatory.

Celery has been successfully employed in curing rheumatoid arthritis due to it’s Due to its sedative and nerve-stimulant properties18. Celery also helps in detoxifying the body and improving the circulation of blood to the muscles and joints. The phthalides present in celery seed and oil are said to have antirheumatic properties. Celery can effectively be used for curing rheumatic pain in muscles of neck and sacrum and curing dysmenorrhoea with short pains in both ovarian regions. 19

Mineral like calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potash, sodium and zinc present in celery support repair of connective tissue and is thus useful for treating arthritis. The coumarins, (furanocoumarian, bergapten) stimulate skin tanning and are a smooth muscle relaxant.

The celery seed oil and other fatty oils obtained from celery seeds have been reported to possess antispasmodic qualities. Celery seed oil acts as an intestinal antiseptic. The emulsion of seed oil is useful in relieving flatulence, colic pain, vomiting and is a house-hold remedy to correct gastric disorders. The presence of δ-limonene and β-selinene are believed to be responsible for it’s antispasmodic action. An India study found the seeds to have marked liver protective activity and extracts of the seeds may also lower blood fat levels. 15

Chinese research indicates that oil lowers blood pressure. A chemical by the name phthalide, 3-n-butylphthalide, in celery is said to relax the smooth muscle linings of the blood vessels, thereby lowering blood pressure. Phthalide works directly by dilating vessels. The phthalides are a natural sedative also. Perhaps this sedative activity could translate into reduced stress further translating into reduced cardiopathy. Celery is therefore one of the dozens of reputed aphrodisiacs. In addition to phthalides, celery is fairly well endowed with a few other hypotensive compounds including ascorbic acid, bergapten (sometimes phototoxic), fibre, magnesium and rutin, so celery contains, hypotensive, hypercholesterolemic and calcium blocker phyto chemicals 20.As well as hypotensive properties, Celery stems and seeds are an accepted treatment of urinary problems in traditional medicine. Their use helps the kidneys to dispose of urates and other waste products and works to reduce the acidity in the body as a whole. Due to its diuretic properties, celery herb and seed is helpful in curing obstinate retention of urine 19. Thus the consumption of organic celery juice with carrot juice is preferred for its cleansing action on the body; it is an effective treatment for cystitis, helping to disinfect the bladder and urinary tubules.

Adulteration of Celery and Celery Products

Celery seed is subject to adulteration with excess stems, chaff and earth,dust, etc. Ground celery is sometimes adulterated with linseed meal, worthless vegetable seeds or at times even with weed seeds. Ajowan seeds are at times used to adulterate celery seed because of its physical similarity to celery seeds.

Key adulterants for Celery seed oil are celery chaff oil or d-limonene. Filth, such as insect fragments, rodent droppings and fungal spores are an indication of poor handling and storage. Heavy metals and chemical residues from pesticides represent another adulteration problem but are generally found in very low levels in celery and its extractives.

Celery oleoresin may be adulterated by added synthetic saturated acid. Complex chromatographic techniques are employed to detect these adulterations. Any celery seed oil containing less than 7.0% β-selinene should be further evaluated for adulteration. Adulteration levels can be detected by comparing the sample value with standard for whole seed, powdered seed, volatile oil and oleoresins respectively.

Celery allergy and potential side effects

In 1990 it was reported that celery is a partly thermostable allergenic. In addition a relatively high number of cases of severe anaphylactic reactions due to ingestion of celery have been reported in Switzerland. It was further added that the thermostable allergenic components of celery allergy seems to be associated with a co-sensitization of mugwort pollen22. In 1995 the molecular characterization of celery was done and Api g 1 gene was identified to be responsible for allergen of celery23.

Celery has the potential to cause dermatitis due to phototoxic reactions. Celery foliage and seed contain psoralen, xanthotoxin and bergapten that are responsible for phototoxic reaction in presence of sunlight. Normally the concentrations of these compounds in celery, parsley and other umbellifers do not pose a health threat for consumption or to field workers handling these plants, although some people are more sensitive to psoralens than others. The concentration of phototoxic compounds has been found to increase if the crop is substantially exposed to pollutants, cold temperature, fungal infections, mechanical damage and the ultraviolet spectrum of sunlight.2

Celery preparations carry a warning against taking celery medicinally in pregnancy or if suffering from kidney disorder15. The use of celery leaves, stalks and seeds has been condemned for attempted use as an illegal abortifacient.

Celery seeds lower the potassium levels in the body if consumed in large quantities, this effect can be counterbalanced by consuming bananas and other fresh vegetables containing high amounts of potassium. Celery seeds have therefore been suggested to be toxic if taken in excess.

Drowsiness may also be a potential side effect of celery as it contains phthalides, which act as natural sedatives. Calcium antagonistic properties of celery due to the presence of coumarins has also been reported. Celery has been reported to possess calcium antagonistic properties due to the presence of calcium blocker of phyto-chemical coumarins such as bergapten, at 1–520 ppm, isopimpinellin, at 4–122 ppm and xanthotoxin, at 6–183 ppm 20.


2. RUBATZKY, V.E. and YAMAGUCHI, M. (1997), World Vegetables, second edition, N.Y. Chapman & Hall, pp. 432–443.
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    • naturalmedicines profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      You can find it in the section dealing with celery products up there! thanks for liking this resource!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      An incredible resource, very well written, can you elaborate of ly0phylization(freeze drying) of celery. Is freeze dried celery available, if so at what cost?

    • IzzyM profile image


      7 years ago from UK

      This is probably the most comprehensive article I have ever read about celery. What a brilliant resource! Voted up and useful :)


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