:Edible Plants
:Medicinal Herbs
:Urinary antiseptic
:Digestive stimulant
:Kidney irritant

Scientific Name: Apium graveolens
Family: Apiaceae
Also known as: The wild form of celery is also known as “smallage”.
Habitat: Salty, wet and marshy soils around the world.
Description: Wild celery, Apium graveolens var. graveolens, grows to 1 m tall. It occurs around the globe. The first cultivation is thought to have happened in the Mediterranean region, where the natural habitats were salty and wet, or marshy soils near the coast where celery grew in agropyro-rumicion-plant communities.
North of the Alps, wild celery is found only in the foothill zone on soils with some salt content. It prefers moist or wet, nutrient rich, muddy soils. It cannot be found in Austria and is increasingly rare in Germany.
Identifying Features:

  • Leaves – Celery leaves are pinnate to bipinnate with rhombic leaflets 3–6 cm long and 2–4 cm broad, which partially cup the stems.
  • Flowers – The flowers are 5-petalled creamy-white, 2–3 mm in diameter, and are produced in dense compound umbels.
  • Stem – Grooved stem. Modern cultivars have been selected for solid petioles, leaf stalks. A celery stalk readily separates into “strings” which are bundles of angular collenchyma cells exterior to the vascular bundles.
  • Seeds – The seeds are broad ovoid to globose, 1.5–2 mm long and wide, with ridges. The ridges on the seeds are oil glands.

Pictures throughout the year




Familiar in its cultivated forms as stem celery and celeriac, but also grows wild in the British isles in damp, coastal environments.
The stalks are not usually eaten (except in soups or stews in French cuisine), but the leaves may be used in salads, and its seeds are those sold as a spice. With cultivation and blanching, the stalks lose their acidic qualities and assume the mild, sweetish, aromatic taste particular to celery as a salad plant.


Celery seeds have been used widely in Eastern herbal traditions such as Ayurveda.26 Aulus Cornelius Celsus wrote that celery seeds could relieve pain in around AD 30.


  • As a diuretic –in both ways in which the word is applied in herbal medicine –increases urine output and increases clearance of metabolic waste. Particularly helps clear excess uric acid, which makes celery of use in gout.
  • Also used in urinary tract infections (but not kidney infections).
  • Mainly used to relieve inflammation and pain in inflammatory joint diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis.
  • It is a carminative and aromatic digestive stimulant.
  • It is anti-spasmodic and traditionally has been used to induce restful sleep.

Modern research is adding to traditional uses showing that celery seed
may have use in:

  • Reducing blood pressure.
  • Protecting the liver from drug damage.
  • As a possible anti-cancer agent.


Many of the active constituents of celery seed also occur in the vegetable – but in much lower concentrations.

  • Bioflavanoids including apigenin and apiin which may contribute to the plant’s mild anxiety reducing effect.
  • Psoralens – which increase the body’s sensitivity to ultra-violet radiation – in theory celery seed could make people photosensitive. In practice this seems to occur more on contact with the plant than with ingestion.
  • Phthalides including 3n-butylphthalide – which may be responsible for diuretic and hypotensive actions.
  • Apiol – see below.


Gav Notes

Known hazards

  • Celery seed should be avoided in kidney disease – apiol is irritant to the kidneys.
  • Should be avoided in pregnancy due to its emmenagogue action (possibly also partially attributed to apiol).


Potential lookalikes

  • Hemlock_Water_Dropwort has very similar leaves and stems, and is very, very poisonous. Be 100% sure of ID before foraging!

Blog post

  • Tree & Plant ID Course from Foundation Bushcraft – http://identificationmasterclass.com/
  • Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Celery
  • Heartwood – Professional Herbalist Course
  • Doctor Murray’s celery information – http://doctormurray.com/celery-and-celery-seed-extract-are-powerful-proven-healers/

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