Apiaceae: an upright, hairless biennial with a characteristic strong smell of celery, to 1m. Found on rough, often saline, grassland and its distribution is mainly coastal. White flowers, in short-stalked or unstalked umbels 3-6cm across, from June-August. Stems are solid and grooved. The leaves are shiny, pinnate, basal leaves once or twice pinnate with toothed and lobed, diamond-shaped lobes. Absent from Scotland and commonest in coastal Southern England. Native to Central and southern Europe, including Britain, to temperate areas of Africa and Asia.
The leaves can be eaten raw or cooked, and are mainly used as a flavouring in soups and the like. They can be eaten raw but have a very strong flavour. The seed can be used as flavouring, and used in small quantities to flavour soups and stews. An essential oil from the seed is also used as a flavouring. The root is also said to cooked and eaten.
Wild celery has a long history of medicinal. It is an aromatic bitter tonic herb that reduces blood pressure, relieves indigestion, stimulates the uterus and is anti-inflammatory. The ripe seeds, herb and root have aperient, carminative, diuretic, emmenagogue, galactogogue, nervine, stimulant and tonic properties.
Sow seeds in spring or autumn in pots or in situ. Just lightly cover the seeds. Plants prefers a rich moist soil in sun or semi-shade, but with some shade in the summer. A very aromatic plant, the aroma being most noticeable when the foliage is bruised.