Is Parsley And Celery The Same?

By Paul Smart •  Updated: 10/31/21 •  7 min read

Is Parsley And Celery The Same? Parsley and Celery are two popular green vegetables that are commonly used in salads and sometimes used as garnishes in a wide variety of dishes. As they are often used interchangeably in certain circumstances, which may lead you to wonder are they the same plant?

Parsley and Celery are different plants that belong to different plants genus’ and are distantly related to each other. While the leaves of the Celery are similar to flat-leaf varieties of parsley the rest of the plant is distinctly different. The leaves of the parsley plant tend to sit on the end relatively thin stems whereas the stalks of the celery varieties tend to be much thicker. However, this is dependent upon the type of celery being grown.

The celery species, Apium graveolens, comes in three forms, Celery, Celeriac, and Leaf Celery. Celery is the most common form that is sold at supermarkets, it is generally grown for its stalks which are typically an inch or 2 wide and around 1 ft long. The stalks can be sold as individual stalks or as a bunch with the leaves attached.

Celeriac is the second form that is grown for its broad thick root though it still has the leaves on top of the root that are similar in taste to celery stalks. The plant is not as tall as celery and has thinner stalks that are about the width of a pencil. The third form is leaf celery which has short stalks like the celeriac, and as the name suggests is generally grown for its leaves.

About Celery

Celery originated in the Mediterranean region and has been used for thousands of years in Greece, Roman, and Egyptian civilizations. Documents indicate that celery was cultivated for medicinal purposes in Egypt prior to 850 B.C with the plant being used to treat a range of ailments that included colds, flu, arthritis, and liver complaints.

In Greece, the plant was used in some games ceremony whereas the Romans valued the celery more for cooking though there was also some superstition was connected with the plant that indicated it could bring bad fortune in certain circumstances.

However, full-scale domestication of celery started to occur around the 17th century. The intense cultivation of celery resulted in the development of varieties that had solid stems, prior to this celery produced hollow stalks. The flavor of the plants was also improved to eliminate the bitterness.

Additionally, farmers found that they could control the intensity of the flavor by blanching. Blanching occurs when the grower eliminates light from the stalks by pushing dirt up around the plant. This results in tender stalks that are white or pale green. In addition to the stalk varieties, Celeriac is also very popular in places like Europe where it is eaten raw or cooked most commonly as a winter vegetable.

Growing Celery

Common stalk celery is a relatively difficult crop to grow well, as it needs to be planted at the right time and is relatively unforgiving if it is not watered correctly. Celery prefers moderate conditions that are too hot and not too cold which means it can only be grown successfully through the Spring and Autumn.

Seeds should ideally be sown in late winter and late summer. The seeds should be planted in a seed tray at a depth of 0.5 inches (1 cm). The seedlings should emerge after 14 to 21 days and will usually need to spend around 6 weeks in the seed tray before being planted out into the garden.

Once the plants are large enough they can be planted in a location with either a full-sun or part shade. When selecting a location it is best to avoid an exposed position as windy conditions can cause the plant to dry out plants. The plants should be spaced at least 8 to 10 inches apart.

In terms of soil conditions Celery grows best in a moist but well-drained that has lots of nutrients. As Celery is a shallow-rooted plant with a high demand for water and nutrients it is important to mulch around the plants thickly to reduce moisture loss.

To ensure that the plant grows strongly it is important to ensure that you water and feed frequently to avoid the plant becoming stressed. If there is insufficient watering or nutrients the stalks of the plant can become fibrous stalks.

To optimize the flavor of the stalks it is advisable to blanch the stems. This has been traditionally done by earthing up the soil around the plant, however, an alternative way to do this is to wrap up the stalks with newspaper and loosely tie a string around them.

This should be done once the stems reach a reasonable height. Typically, it will take 2 to 3 weeks for the blanching to have the desired effect. At this point, the plant can be harvested as a whole or the stalks can be harvested individually as required to extend the harvest season.

About Parsley

Like Celery Parsley originated in the Mediterranean region and has been was widely used by the people of Europe for several thousand years. The Greeks, in particular, viewed parsley as a sacred plant that was used to adorn tombs and was also used in wreaths. Parsley also appeared in Greek mythology and is said to have first appeared from the blood Archemorus after he was consumed by serpents.

In other ancient civilizations, parsley was used for medicinal purposes as a cure for digestive disorders, bronchitis, and toothaches. However, it is the Romans who are responsible for introducing the practice of using parsley as a garnish. The Romans originally used parsley to absorb food odors which was achieved by wearing parsley around the neck at feasts or placing it on the table.

During the Middle Ages, it began to be used as a culinary herb. Today the most popular varieties are curly-leaf parsley and flat-leaf parsley, which is sometimes referred to as Italian parsley.

Growing Parsley

The plant itself comes from the Umbelliferae family which includes carrots and parsley. It is a biennial plant that produces foliage in the first year before blooming in the second year. Like other members of this family, the plant can be slow to germinate and the germination can be somewhat unreliable if you plant seeds directly into the ground.

The reason for this is the soil at the surface tends to dry out readily resulting in patchy germination. To avoid this issue it is best to presoak the seeds and plant into seed trays where the conditions can be controlled more readily. To read more about techniques that can be used to improve the germination rates click here.

When planting parsley seed it is best to fill the seed trays with seed raising mixture as it is sterile and it has excellent moisture retention. The seeds should be planted at a depth of 0.5 inches (1 cm) and watered in well, it will typically take around 2 weeks or so for the seedlings to appear.

The seedlings will usually need to spend 6 to 8 weeks in the seed tray before they are ready to be planted out in the garden. When planting the seedlings in the garden they should be placed approximately 1 ft (30 cm) apart in rich moist soil that has plenty of nutrients.

In terms of light requirements, parsley can tolerate a wide range of conditions which include full sun to almost complete shade. However, if you live in a region that has extreme summer temperatures I generally recommend that you plant in partial shade, as that will ensure that the leaves are of good quality.

Once the plant is in the ground it is advisable to apply a thick layer of mulch around the plant to ensure that the soil remains moist. It is important to note that the plant will grow happily in an ornamental garden as well as a vegetable garden as the plant produces luscious foliage that is around 12 inches (30 cm) high that will make it an ideal addition to any garden bed or border.

Paul Smart