Family: Apiaceae (Umbelliferae), Apium graveolens L.
Source: Simon, J.E., A.F. Chadwick and L.E. Craker. 1984.
Herbs: An Indexed Bibliography. 1971-1980. The Scientific Literature
on Selected Herbs, and Aromatic and Medicinal Plants of the Temperate
Zone. Archon Books, 770 pp., Hamden, CT.
Celery, Apium graveolens L., is a biennial plant native
to North America, South America, and Eurasia. Although extensively
cultivated as a vegetable, the dried ripe fruit are produced as
a spice in the People's Republic of China, France, India, Italy,
Pakistan, the United States, and Great Britain (11.1-75,
The reported life zone of celery is 5 to 27 degrees centigrade
with an annual precipitation of 0.3 to 4.6 meters and a soil pH
of 4.2 to 8.3 (4.1-31). The plants thrive in deep sandy or
loamy soils but require irrigation because of their shallow root
systems. Plants are seeded or transplanted, and the compound white
umbels, cross-pollinated by insects, are developed in the
second year. Harvested plants are allowed to dry and are then
threshed to remove seeds.
An essential oil is obtained from seeds or seed chaff by a process
of crushing and steam distillation. The essential oil of celery
seed includes d-limonene, selinene, sesquiterpene alcohols,
sedanolide, and sedanonic anhydride (14.1-9). A fixed oil
includes the fatty acids petroselinic, oleic, linoleic, myristic,
palmitic, palmitoleic, stearic, and myristoleic (1.2-6).
Oil of celery seed is sometimes adulterated with celery chaff
oil or di-limonene and other terpenes from less expensive
The brown, characteristically aromatic, pungent seed is used in
salads, soups, stews, vegetable dishes, meat dishes, and celery
salt (a mixture of table salt and ground celery seed). The essential
oil and oleoresin of celery seed are used as a flavoring or fragrance
in liqueurs, perfumes, and cosmetics, such as soaps, creams, and
lotions. The odor is produced by the anhydrides, sedanoid, and
sedanomic (11.1-136). As a vegetable, celery is cultivated
for the green and blanched leaf stalks (Apium graveolens
L. var. dulce [Mill.] Pers.), or, to a limited extent,
the edible thickened roots and crowns (Apium graveolens
L. var. rapaceum [Mill.] Gaud.-Beaup).
As a medicinal plant, celery has been used as an aphrodisiac,
anthelmintic, antispasmodic, carminative, diuretic, emmenagogue,
laxative, sedative, stimulant, and tonic. The plant is used against
asthma, bronchitis, and rheumatism. Large amounts of the volatile
oil can produce sedation and irritation that may be responsible
for attributed antispasmodic properties. Celery is known to cause
photodermatitis and contact dermatitis (8.2-79, 11.1-96).
Celery has also shown hypoglycemic activity (7.1-21, 11.1-96).
Myristicin found in the seed is chemically related to known carcinogens
(7.8-12). Wild celery usually refers to Vallisneria spiralis
L., an aquatic perennial plant of the Hydrocharitaceae family
Celery seed is generally recognized as safe for human consumption
as a spice, natural seasoning, and plant extract/essential oil
(21 CFR sections 182.10,182.20 ).
[Note: References listed above in parentheses can be found in
full in the original reference].
Last modified 6-Dec-1997