IUCN threat status:

Least Concern (LC)

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Celery (Apium graveolens) probably originated in the Mediterranean region, but is now grown throughout the world. Thousands of years ago it was grown as a medicinal plant. Only later was it cultivated for its leaves, which were used as a flavoring (leaf or cutting Celery, A. graveolens var. secalinum). In the 16th and 17th centuries, mild-tasting forms were selected for the leaf stalk (petiole) Celery familiar today (A. graveolens var. dulce). Celeriac (A. graveolens var. rapaceum) was also developed. Leaf Celery is still grown in Southeast Asia.

Leaf stalk Celery is "blanched" (with soil, paper, or black polythene) to produce white leaf bases and a reduced concentration of apiin, a bitter glycoside (some cultivars are grown without blanching). Celery contains around 95% water and little protein, fat, or sugar, but a range of minerals, some carotenes, vitamin E, and B complex vitamins. The vitamin C content is low (8 mg/100g). Celery "seeds" (actually the tiny fruits of the plant) are used as a flavoring and in celery salt.

According to de Vilmorin (1950, as cited in Li and Quiros 2000), Celery was introduced from France to North America in 1887 in the form of two cultivars, the self-blanching 'Paris Golden Yellow Self-Blanching’ and a green cultivar called ‘Pascal’. In the U.S. seed trade, these cultivars were known as ‘White Plume’ and ‘Giant Pascal’, respectively. ‘White Plume’ and ‘Giant Pascal’ are the main progenitors of modern U.S. cultivars, with little introgression from other varieties. Furthermore, these two cultivars were themselves related since they were presumably derived by selection from the older French cultivar ’Solid Golden White Celery’. Thus, Celery stocks in the U.S. exhibit relatively low genetic variation.

Celery is a biennial which produces in the first year an upright rosette of leaves (40 to 60 cm in height) with closely appressed succulent leaf stalks. In the second year, it produces a tall flowering stem with terminal and axillary umbels of small, greenish-white flowers that give rise to tiny 1.5 mm long tiny fruits.

(Sturtevant 1886; Vaughan and Geissler 1997)


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