Other Names: Marsh Water Parsley, Wild Celery, Smallage, Garden Celery
Apium graveolens is used around the world as a vegetable, either for the crisp petiole (leaf stalk) or the fleshy taproot. The leaves are strongly flavoured and are used less often, either as a flavouring in soups and stews or as a dried herb.
In temperate countries, celery is also grown for its seeds. Actually very small fruit, these “seeds” yield a valuable volatile oil used in the perfume and pharmaceutical industries. They also contain an organic compound called apiol. Celery seeds can be used as flavouring or spice, either as whole seeds or ground and mixed with salt, as celery salt. Celery salt can also be made from an extract of the roots, or using dried leaves. Celery salt is used as a seasoning, in cocktails (notably to enhance the flavour of Bloody Mary cocktails), on the Chicago-style hot dog, and in Old Bay Seasoning.
The use of celery seed in pills for relieving pain was described by Aulus Cornelius Celsus around 30 AD. Celery seeds contain a compound, 3-n–butylphthalide, that has been demonstrated to lower blood pressure in rats.
Bergapten in the seeds can increase photosensitivity, so the use of essential oil externally in bright sunshine should be avoided. The oil and large doses of seeds should be avoided during pregnancy, as they can act as a uterine stimulant. Seeds intended for cultivation are not suitable for eating as they are often treated with fungicides.