The answer to is celery a fruit or vegetable is just glaringly obvious: celery is a vegetable. There’s no debate about that. The same goes for celeriac. I also want to touch on this celery vs celeriac distinction, I think it would be interesting to be aware of both.
These two are very delicious, very interesting vegetables. Celery especially is very versatile: it can be eaten raw, used to make delicious smoothies, and used for a wide array of savory dishes.
Before that, I want to discuss another thing. Where things get interesting with celery is in actually establishing what kind of vegetable it is.
Let’s take things step by step so that you can easily understand what I’m talking about when I’m saying that there’s a debate in establishing what kind it is.
Table of Contents
Is Celery a Fruit or Vegetable? Why Celery Is a Vegetable
Celery is part of the Apiaceae family. Other vegetables belonging to the same family are carrots and parsnips. I also answered the question is carrot a fruit or vegetable, if you’re interested in reading about that, too.
Celery is a native of Great Britain, it grows in the wild along wet ditches and in marshes. However, as a wild plant its taste is acrid and its smell not the best.
Due to cultivation, we can enjoy the leaf stalks of this vegetable, whether we’re eating it raw, drinking it in smoothies, or cooking it. Due to cultivation, celery has become turnip shape and just as awesome for cooking.
Vegetables by definition are plants from which we consume different parts, like their roots, stalks, leaves, flowers, bulbs, tubers and seeds.
All these can be consumed raw or mostly in savory dishes. There are a few exceptions that can be used to make sweet dishes, like a carrot cake. But those are rare.
However, the thing to remember is that these plants are not propagated from these parts that we consume. It’s mostly seeds for propagation. One popular exception is potatoes, which are propagated from tubers.
From celery, we consume the stalks or stems, as some people call them, and sometimes the leaves. They’re also called ribs. That’s where the debate will come in, whether these are leaf stalks or stems.
Is Celery a Leaf and Leafstalk Vegetable or a Stem Vegetable?
According to Britannica, celery is a leaf and leafstalk vegetable. We eat both the leaves and the leaf stalks. And I totally agree.
But others call the parts that we eat stems so, they’re considering it a stem vegetable. An example of a stem vegetable is asparagus.
However, if you want a very in-depth demonstration on why celery is a leaf and leafstalk vegetable, check out this article from Botanical Accuracy. It clearly states why this is a leaf and leafstalk. It also informs us that the leaf stalk is also called petiole.
Even if the ribs/sticks don’t look like leaves, they are part of the leaves.
The stem of the celery is actually the very small, woody part in the center of the plant. We’re definitely not eating the stem.
Asparagus still remains the most prominent stem vegetable.
Celery vs Celeriac
To put things into perspective: from celery we’re eating the leaves and leaf stalks, while from celeriac we’re eating the root. Well, actually the root is used for cooking, it’s not eaten raw.
Celeriac is also called a celery root. That’s exactly what it is.
Celery and celeriac are not the same thing at all but they are the same plant. That plant is called Apium graveolens.
One is cultivated for its leaves and the other is cultivated with the purpose of growing a big root under the ground.
The root can grow as big as a grapefruit but there are some that are as small as an orange or a lemon. It really depends, just as it happens with potatoes and onions.
Can you use them interchangeably in cooking? Yes, you absolutely can. If I don’t have celery for my Bolognese, I use celeriac. You won’t notice the difference.
Celeriac has a more earthy taste and it can be a bit more intense for those who aren’t used to it. After all, this is a root, while celery leaves grow above ground and don’t have that slight earthy taste.
Is celery easy to grow at home?
It’s not particularly easy because it requires a certain soil for a productive crop.
It needs a deep black muck with open, porous subsoil. This is a soft soil that retains moisture well. A clay subsoil is not desired. Sand can be mixed with the black soil.
The soil needs to be rich and fertile. A nitrogen-rich fertilizer can be used. Nitrogen is the main ingredient needed because we’re growing it for its leaves.
A very good idea is mixing the soil with manure.
Another thing that poses a certain degree of difficulty is seeds germination. It’s quite uncertain if the conditions are not suitable.
If you’re interested in an interesting experiment that can be done indoors, you can check out videos that teach you how to regrow celery from scraps. It might be a fun activity for you and your kids.
Is Celery a Fruit or Vegetable? Why Celery is Not a Fruit
Fruits, by their definition, contain seed(s) inside their body. Moreover, in most cases, the plants that produce these fruits are reproduced through these seeds that are grown inside the body of the fruits.
That’s also the reason for which avocado, eggplant, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, zucchini are also considered fruits from the botanical perspective. But we can also call them vegetables since we’re using them to mostly make savory dishes.
There are also exceptions to fruits that are not propagated from seeds.
A very common example and exception of a fruit grown across the globe is strawberries. Strawberries are propagated from runners and not from seeds. Moreover, we clearly see the seeds because they grow on the outer body and not inside the body, as it’s the case a large majority of fruits.
Another exception is pineapple, which is not propagated from seeds. It’s propagated through the crown of the fruit or offsets (suckers, slips, hapas).
So, celery is not a fruit because there are no seeds inside the stalks. In the case of celeriac, there are no seeds inside the roots. The seeds are obtained from seed stalks if the plant is exposed to cold, mainly by over wintering in mild climates.
That’s why I gave you such a strong, direct answer to the question is celery a fruit or vegetable.