Progress in Essential Oils
Celery seed and leaf oils
n BY BRIAN M. LAWRENCE, Consultant
Celery is an annual or biennial member of the Apiaceae (Umbelliferae) family. Although
there are two well-known varieties
of Apium graveolens L., celery
seed oil is obtained by steam
distillation of A. graveolens
var. dulce (Mill.) Pers. The
other variety, A. graveolens
var. rapaceum (Mill.) Gaudich,
possesses dark green leaves and is
grown for its root tubers (celeriac).
Two less recognized celery varieties are A. graveolens var. filicium
Crovetto which is cultivated in
Egypt, as is A. graveolens var.
seca-linum Alef. (also known as Chinese
celery). Celery (A. graveolens var.
dulce) is an erect, herbaceous plant
that grows to a height of 60–90 cm.
It has a succulent, shallow tap root
with numerous small feeder roots.
The stem is branched, somewhat
succulent, fistular (hollow), angular
and ridged from which deeply
divided pinnate leaves that are
coarsely toothed at their apex arise.
Each plant produces numerous
small, tightly-spaced, white five
petal flowers aggregated in umbel-
lets and umbels. It is estimated
that there are typically 300 umbells
and 10–14 umbellates per plant.
The aggregated floral system
attracts insects for natural cross-
and self-pollination even within
flowers on the same plant (Jamwal
and Kaul, 1996).
The fact that A. graveolens
var. dulce can be both cross- and
self-pollinated suggests that it
can be readily grown in various
environments. Once pollinated the
small two-seeded ellipsoid-shaped
schizocarp (split fruit) are formed.
It is estimated (Choudhary et
al. 1993) that the seed yield per
umbell is 5–7. 5 and 1,654 seeds
weigh 1 kg. As with all Apiaceae
fruit, the essential oil is found in
the internal schizogenous cavities
(cells separated from each other)
in the oil ducts found longitudinally along the seed. Because
celery has a complex floral biology,
selective hybridization is extremely
difficult, as a result new cultivars
have been developed by mass
selection and random hybridization
(Choudhary and Kaul 1992).
A study on 11 selected genotypes by Choudhary and Kaul
determined that the environmental
(extrinsic) conditions were the
most influenced factors rather
than the intrinsic conditions for
the inheritability of plant height
and seed formation. Consequently,
the grower has to select a cultivar
based on its seed yield in his local
Celery, which is a long duration crop taking 190–210 days
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