This week I’ve also taken delivery of some seedlings from Tasmania. It is rather unusual for me to get mail order plants (as opposed to seeds), but these are something a bit out of the box. I now have 5 plants of Australian celery and I don’t mean a type of celery that has been bred in Australia, but a genuine native celery plant Apium prostratum or Sea Celery. And to add some further interest there is another native celery Apium insulare, known as the Flinders Island Celery which can also be cultivated and eaten. (The regular garden celery is Apium graveolens).
I first stumbled across a reference to native celery while I was reading the Gardening Australia “Edible Garden” forum. In a general discussion on growing celery someone mentioned they’d grown the Flinders Island celery for several years and it had proved a hardy plant which tasted more or less like the common garden variety. My interest was piqued and a quick check of the Australian Plant Name Index revealed a second edible Apium, the Sea Celery.
The nursery mentioned in the forum as supplying the Flinders Island celery plants turned out to be currently out of action. Thankfully a quick whirl of the interweb identified another supplier in Tassie who were growing the Sea Celery. Having contacted the suppliers TasWild Plants, I was relieved to hear that they had plants available of the Sea Celery, which grows naturally on their property. Where they live regularly drops down to – 8 over winter so there should be no problems of with the plants coping with a Canberra winter.
The plants of Apium prostratum are perennial and form a mat up to 50cms high and about a metre across. I did have a small sample of the leaves and there is a distinct celery flavour with a touch of parsley thrown in as well. The parsley flvour shouldn’t be too much as a surprise as both celery and parsley come from the same Family Apiaceae, although parsley Petroselenium crispum, is in a different genus.
I’m really pleased to add this plant to my garden as its another step towards increasing the number of native plants that I grow for regular eating.