> > > >


Smallage is the wild variety of celery.

Smallage is very leafy, with thin hollow stalks and can grow up to 3 feet (1 metre) tall. The stalks are very slender and pliable.

It is a biennial plant. It grows the first year, blooms and seeds the next year, then dies.

Smallage blossoms with flat, umbrella-like masses of tiny white blooms, similar to parsley and Queen Anne's lace. It does look quite similar to parsley in a way, though the leaves' shape is different and the colour a bit lighter, and the stalks are a slightly thicker.

The stalks are very stringy and not very good eating. It is used as an herb for the strong, bitter flavour of its leaves. The raw leaves can be used in salads. Its seeds are what is sold as Celery Seed -- not seeds from celery plants but actually Smallage seeds. It can be treated as a cut and come again plant.

In France, Smallage is used in soups and stews, as they feel it gives more concentrated flavour then domesticated celery. One French name, "celeri à couper", gives the sense that it's to be cut up (and then tossed in a stew.)

History Notes

Milder domesticated varieties of Smallage probably first appeared in Italy in the 1500s, though they are only first mentioned in print in French, in 1623 by Oliver de Serres, a French botanist.

Smallage was used historically as a flavouring in cooking, as a medicine, and in religious rites.

Literature & Lore

"DEAR Perenna, prithee come

and with smallage dress my tomb:
And a cypress sprig thereto,
With a tear, and so Adieu."

-- Robert Herrick (1591 to 1674). "To Perenna, a mistress".

Language Notes

The English word "Smallage" comes from "small ache" (pronounced "small ash".) "Ache" was an old French word for celery.

Smallage is sometimes thought to be what the Greeks called "selinon", but they used the same word for this and for parsley, so you can rarely know for sure what was meant. The Romans also used the same word -- apium -- for both smallage and parsley. Later both Latin and Greek came to have separate names for parsley. In Greek, πετροσέλινον ("petroselinon", "petros" meaning "rock" and "selinon" meaning "celery", so "rock celery"). From the Greek word, the Romans derived their more precise word of "Petroselinum". But as to what "rock" has to do with parsley is anyone's guess.

Please share this information with your friends. They may love it.

Also called:

Cutting Celery; Soup Celery; Wild Celery; Apium graveolens var. graveolens (Scientific Name); Ache des marais, Ache odorante, Ache puante, Céleri d'Italie, Persil des marais, Persil odorant (French); Apium (Roman)


See also:


Celery Root; Celery Salt; Celery Seed; Celery; Lovage; Smallage

You may also like:

Bon mots

"I like rice. Rice is great if you're hungry and want 2000 of something."

-- Mitch Hedberg (American comic. 24 February 1968 – 29 March 2005)

Food Calendar

A calendar tracking what happens when in the world of food.
  • food day iconIdus Februarias (Today)
    Idus Februarias, a Roman holiday, falls on what is now the 13th of February in our modern Gregorian calendar. The Ides were a religious festival that actually went on for 9 days, from the 13th through to the 21st February inclusive.
  • food day iconTortini Day (Today)
    13th of February is marked by some as Tortini Day to celebrate the Italian desserts called Tortini. But, given that a Tortino (the singular) can be anything from a cupcake to a small, savoury quiche-like pie, you can pretty much treat yourself to whatever you like that fits in that range today -- after all, whoever proclaimed the day didn't specify which tortini.

Myth of the Day

Myth Picture Read more >