Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
It has a furrowed stalk with wedge-shaped leaves, the whole plant having a coarse, rank taste, and a peculiar smell. With 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.
In the past, celery was grown as a vegetable for winter and early spring; because of its antitoxic properties, it was a cleansing tonic after the stagnation of winter.
In its native condition, it 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.
Celeriac is a variety of celery, Apium graveolens var. rapaceum, cultivated for its roots rather than its stalks, although both are edible and are used for salads and in soups. It is chiefly grown in the north of Europe.
As a food
- 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.
- Chopped, it is one of the three vegetables considered the holy trinity of Louisiana Creole and Cajun cuisine.
As a medicine
The whole plant is gently stimulant, nourishing, and restorative; it can be liquefied, with the juice taken for joint and urinary tract inflammations, such as rheumatoid arthritis, cystitis, or urethritis, for weak conditions, and for nervous exhaustion.
More specific uses:
- Seeds Mainly used as a diuretic, these help clear toxins from the system, so are especially good for gout, where uric acid crystals collect in the joints, and arthritis. Slightly bitter, they act as a mild digestive stimulant. Harvest after the plant flowers in its second year. Infuse the seeds for rheumatoid arthritis and gout, combine 2 tsp. lignum vitae, and add 1/2 tsp. to a cup of boiling water.
- Essential oil Distilled from the seeds, the essential oil is more potent therapeutically. Use with care. 'Oil' can be used for painful gout in the feet or toes, add 15 drops oil to a bowl of warm water, and soak the feet. 'Massage oil' can be made by diluting 5-10 drops celery oil in 20 ml almond or sunflower oil, and massage into arthritic joints.
- Root Rarely used today, the root is an effective diuretic and has been taken for urinary stones and gravel. It also acts as a bitter digestive remedy and liver stimulant. A tincture can be used as a diuretic in hypertension and urinary disorders, as a component in arthritic remedies, or as a kidney energy stimulant and cleanser.
- Bergapten in the seeds could increase photosensitivity, so do not apply the essential oil externally in bright sunshine.
- Avoid the oil and large doses of the seeds during pregnancy: they can act as a uterine stimulant.
- Do not buy seeds intended for cultivation, because they are often treated with fungicides.
There is a widespread myth that the word celery (The Fast Vegetable) has roots in the Latin word, celer, meaning fast or swift. This is entirely false - there is no connection between them. It actually comes from the Greek selinon, meaning parsley. It passed through Latin, Italian and French before becoming the modern English word celery.
- Harper, Douglas (2001). Etymology of celery. Retrieved 2005 January 5.
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