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In the Kaleidoscope: Celery

Contact Author J. Verghese
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Apium graveolens L., related but not identical to the vegetable celery plant (belonging to any one of the several other varieties of the same species of which many cultivars exist) is a hepaxanthic, annual or bienneal herb, reaching approximately 30 to 60 cm high and grows wild or cultivated worldwide. The plant has a grooved, fleshy and erect stalk, radical taproot, coarsely toothed leaflets, very small white flowers and schizocarpous fruits.

Of the organs of the celey plant, the fruit which is termed as celery seed in trade parlance, is the most important. All parts of the plant contain essential oil but it is highest in the seed from where commercially available celery flavour is largely derived.

Celery seed is light brown, globular, two-seeded and about 750,000 seeds weigh 1 lb. In indigenous medicine celery is credited with therapeutic values to which recent pharmacological investigation seems to support. From the dawn of history, with its “characteristic, agreeable odour, aromatic, warm and somewhat pungent taste” and notably haylike and grassy note, this spice is known as a celebrated food flavorant.

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