It is a marshland plant in the family Apiaceae that has been cultivated as a vegetable since antiquity.
Celery is believed to be the same plant as selinon, mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey about 850 B.C. Our word “celery” comes from the French celeri, which is derived from the ancient Greek word. The old Roman names, as well as those in many modern languages, are derived from the same root word and sound remarkably similar. This indicates a rather recent wide distribution and use of celery.
In the Capitulary of Charlemagne, compiled ca. 800, apium appears, as does olisatum, or alexanders, among medicinal herbs and vegetables the Frankish emperor desired to see grown. At some later point in medieval Europe celery displaced alexanders
Celery was described by Carl Linnaeus in Volume One of his Species Plantarum in 1753.
Celery leaves are pinnate to bipinnate with rhombic leaflets 3 to 6 cm (1.2 to 2.4 in) long and 2 to 4 cm (0.8 1.6 in) broad.
The flowers are creamy-white, 2 to 3 mm (0.08 0.12 in) in diameter, and are produced in dense compound umbels. The seeds are broad ovoid to globose, 1.5 to 2 mm (0.06 to 0.08 in) long and wide.
Modern cultivars have been selected for solid petioles, leaf stalks. A celery stalk readily separates into “strings” which are bundles of angular collenchyma cells exterior to the vascular bundles.
There are 25 calories in 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of celery.
Celery is an important food source of conventional antioxidant nutrients, including vitamin C, beta-carotene, and manganese. But its “claim to fame” in terms of antioxidant nutrients may very well be its phytonutrients. Many of these phytonutrients fall into the category of phenolic antioxidants and have been shown to provide anti-inflammatory benefits as well. Below is a representative list of the phenolic antioxidants found in celery.
The health benefits of celery include benefits for weight loss, lower high cholesterol, lowers inflammation, prevents or treat high blood pressure, helps prevent ulcers, protects liver health, boosts digestion and reduces bloating, contains anti-microbial properties that fight infections, helps prevent urinary tract infections and may help protect from cancer.
Gardeners can grow a range of cultivars, many of which differ from the wild species, mainly in having stouter leaf stems.
In North America, commercial production of celery is dominated by the cultivar called ‘Pascal’ celery.
In Europe, another popular variety is celeriac (also known as celery root), grown because its hypocotyl forms a large bulb, white on the inside.
A crunchy snack all by itself or with peanut butter added to round out the nutrients, celery is one of the most versatile vegetables in the garden, useful for its flavorful seeds and pale green leaves and stalks.
Steamed celery not only retains its flavor, but also most of its nutrients–up to 99 percent of them, in fact!
The seeds can be ground and mixed with salt, to produce celery salt.
Celery seeds have been used widely in Eastern herbal traditions such as Ayurveda. Aulus Cornelius Celsus wrote that celery seeds could relieve pain in around AD 30.