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Apium graveolens L.

Apium graveolens L.




Apium dulce Miller, Apium rapaceum Miller, Apium lusitanicum Miller.

Vernacular Names


Sadri, selderi, seladeri.


Celery, stalk celery, leaf celery, celeriac.


Selederi, saledri.


Kin-chai, kinintsai, kinsay.


Chii tang' 'ao, kien chhaay.


S'ii s'aangz.


Khun-chai (Central), phakpum, phakkhaopun (Northern).


Rau c[aat]n t[aa]y.


Celeri cote, celeri branch, celeri rave.

Geographical Distributions

Apium graveolens occurs wild (var. graveolens) as a marsh plant throughout temperate Europe and Asia (known as water celery). Even before the Christian era, it had been brought into cultivation, first as a medicinal plant, and later for the leaves (leaf or cutting celery) which were used as a flavouring (var. secalinum Alef.). It was, however, only in the 16th or 17th centuries that milder-tasting special forms were selected in France or Italy for consumption as vegetable: stalk celery with large, swollen petioles (var. dulce (Miller) Pers.), and celeriac with a turnip-like edible tuber (var. rapaceum (Miller) Gaudin). These forms became most important in western temperate areas. Celery also has a long history in China, dating back to at least the 6th Century. The Chinese celery most resembles the leaf celery (var. secalinum), which is also most widespread in Southeast Asia. The vernacular names in Southeast Asia indicate that celery was introduced from Europe in the western parts (Dutch-derived names in Indonesia and Malaysia), and from China in the eastern parts (Chinese-derived names in the Philippines).


Apium graveolens is a biennial, erect, copiously branched, hairless herb that can grow up to 25-90 cm tall, with a spindle-shaped to tuberiform fleshy taproot, and with rosulate leaves when young. The stem is fistular, angular, strongly grooved and ribbed longitudinally.

The leaves are long-petioled (often with only a sheath) and simply pinnate or 3-foliolate. The leaflets are broad with a wedge-shaped base, measuring 2-5 cm x 1.5-3 cm, trilobate to tri-partite and petiolulate.

The inflorescence is a compound, many-flowered umbel, sessile or short-peduncled, and terminal or opposite the leaves. There are 5-15 primary rays which are 1-3 cm long. The involucres and involucels are absent. The umbellules are 6-25-flowered. They are hermaphrodite flowers, 5-merous, and white to greenish-white. The pedicel (secondary ray) is 2-3 mm long. Sepal teeth are absent. The petals measure 0.5 mm across.

The fruit is schizocarp, splitting into 2 mericarps with each up to 1.5 mm long and with 5 light-coloured ribs. 

Ecology / Cultivation

The wild form of Apium graveolens is a halophilous marsh plant and this explains the high water needs and good salt tolerance of the cultivated forms. The types of European origin are usually cultivated in the tropics at higher elevations. They are adapted to areas with monthly mean temperatures of 15-21°C. Exposure at the five-true-leaf stage to 5-10°C for a minimum of 10 days causes bolting. However, there is seldom a problem of premature flowering in the tropics. The Chinese forms are more heat-tolerant than the European forms and can be grown in the lowlands. Both types can be planted in Southeast Asia year-round. Celery demands a moist, pervious, fertile, if possible slightly saline soil, with pH 6-6.8, and well supplied with organic matter.

Line Drawing / Photograph



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  1. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No.8: Vegetables

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