This biennial plant is native to Europe,1 yet grown and consumed worldwide. A number of varieties of celery exist, many developed to meet commercial de-mands for particular colors, tastes and stalk sizes. Celery generally grows between 1 to 2 feet tall. They have tough ribbed green stems and segmented dark green leaves containing toothed leaflets. During June and July, small white flowers bloom which later bear the smooth gray fruits of seeds. Wet and salty soils, swamps and marshes are the preferred environment for celery. 1 Celery is blanced to generate the edible white stem during cultivation. Celery seeds have a spicy odor and a spicy, yet slightly bitter taste.
The generic name pascal applies to any green celery. In Europe, the term celery is frequently used to refer to a related root vegetable, Apium graveo/ens L. var rapa-ceum, DC. Wild celery can refer to Vallisneria spira/is L., an aquatic perennial.
Celery seed oil is obtained by the steam distillation of the seed. According to the US Department of Agriculture, US growers in 1983 produced 914 tons of celery on 35,000 acres of farmland. The crop was valued at $235 million.
Celery originated as a wild plant growing in salt marshes around the Mediterranean Sea. About 450 B.C., the Greeks used it to make a type of wine called selinites. It served as an award at early athletic games, much as laurel leaves or olive branches. By the Middle Ages, Europeans were cultivating celery. Since that time, the plant has been used widely both as a food and as a medicine.
Late in the 19th century, various celery tonics and elixirs appeared commercially. These generally contained the juice of crushed celery seeds, often with a significant amount of alcohol. Celery seed is mainly used as a diuretic for bladder and kidney complaints and for arthritis and rheumatism. Sedative effects have been produced from the essential oil.
Celery continues to be used as a food flavor, in soaps and in gum. One product that is still available is a celery-flavored soda, Dr. Brown's Cel-Ray. Celery has become increasingly popular with dieters. This particular attraction stems from celery's high fiber content and the (mislaKI belief that chewing and digesting the stalks uses calories than celery contains.
Celery is high in minerals (including sodium and chlorine) and is a poor source of vitamins4T~ major constituents of celery seed oil are d-limone (60%), selinene (10%) and a number of related phthali (3%) which include 3-n-butylphthalide, sedanenolide sedanonic anhydride. Celery contains a pheromone ste-roid previously identified in boars and parsnips.
The furocoumarin, bergapten, has been found in celery UV spectographic studies have indicated the presenced' a compound similar or identical to 8-methoxypsoraleo. Infrared spectography has confirmed yet another com. pound with a furocoumarin glucoside, isoquercitrin, aM the coumarin glucoside apiumoside also have been identified.
Other organic components include isovalerianic aide. hyde, propionic aldehyde and acetaldehyde. Oil ofcele- seed is sometimes adulterated with celery chaff oil (X d-limonene from less expensive sources).
Herbalists recommend celery treatment of arthritis, nervousness and hysteria. Oriental medicine uses the seeds to treat headaches and as a diuretic, digestive aid and emmenagogue. Celery has also been prescribed as an antiflatulent, anti lactogen and aphrodisiac.
The phthalides have been reported to have sedativelO and anticonvulsive activity in mice. An extract of cele (var dulce) has been reported to have hypotensive prop. erties in rabbits and dogs when administered intrave. nously. In man, the juice has been shown to have effectively lowered blood pressure in 14 of 16 hyperten-sive patients.
The essential oil has in vitro fungicidal effects. The oil has hypoglycemic activity. Essential oils from celery may also possess potential anticarcinogenic properties. Two component of celery, 3-n-butylphthalide and se danolide were experimentally found o reduce tumors in mice.