Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index


Celery (Apium graveolens L.), a biennial plant belonging to the order Umbelliferae (Apiales), which, in its native condition, is known in England as smallage. In its wild state it is common by the sides of ditches and in marshy places, especially near the sea. It has a furrowed stalk with wedge-shaped leaves, the whole plant having a coarse, rank taste, and a peculiar smell. By cultivation and blanching the stalks lose their acrid qualities and assume the mild sweetish aromatic taste peculiar to celery as a salad plant. The plants are raised from seed, sown either in a hot bed or in the open garden according to the season of the year, and after one or two thinnings out and transplantings they are, on attaining a height of 6 or 8 inches, planted out in deep trenches for convenience of blanching which is effected by earthing up and so excluding stems from the influence of light. A large number of varieties are cultivated by gardeners, which are ranged under two classes, white and red - the white varieties being generally the best flavoured, and most crisp and tender. As a salad plant, celery, especially if at all "stringy", is difficult to digest but possesses valuable diuretic properties. Both blanched and green it is stewed and used soups, the seeds also being used as a flavouring ingredient. In the south of Europe celery is seldom blanched, but is much used in its natural condition.

Celeriac is a variety of celery cultivated more on account its roots than for the stalks, although both are edible and are used for salads and in soups. It is chiefly grown in the north of Europe, and is not in much request in Great Britain.

from the 9th edition (1876) of an unnamed encyclopedia