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Statewide IPM Program, University of California

Wild Celery  (Cyclospermum leptophyllum)

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Life stages of wild celery fruiting stem seedling plant seeds fruiting (left) and flowering (right) stems

Wild celery is a winter or summer annual broadleaf plant. It is scattered throughout California to about 500 feet (150 m).


Wild celery is found in vegetable crops, orchards, fields, associated with field edges and ditches, gardens, turf and landscaped areas, and other disturbed places such as railroad tracks, roadsides.


Cotyledons (seed leaves) are hairless and linear and about 1/6 to 2/5 inch (4–10 mm) long and 1/25 inch (1 mm) wide. The first leaf is deeply lobed (3 lobes) with a long stalk.

Mature plant

The mature plant forms an erect to decumbent (prostrate stems with erect tips) mound and can grow to 2 feet (0.6 m) in length. However,  it will adapt to mowing. Like the seedling it is hairless. Its leaves alternate along the stem and are deeply dissected into threadlike segments. The entire leaf ranges from 1-1/5 to 4 inches (3–10 cm) long and the leaf segments, from about 1/8 to 3/5 inch (0.3–1.5 cm). Upper leaves are stalkless and more threadlike and lower leaves have stalks ranging from roughly 4/5 to 5 inches (2–12 cm).


Flowers bloom from April though August. Individual white, minute, five-petaled flowers bundle to form clusters (inflorescence) called umbels. The umbles have a flat-topped umbrella shape.. Some wild celery umbels are simple umbels, because the individual flower stalks radiate from a common point, forming an umbrella “shape”. Others are compound umbels, which form when several simple umbels cluster on a stalk. In wild celery, under each umbel are 1 to 3 rays or threadlike green bracts, less than 4/5 inch (2 cm) long.


Fruit are oblong to egg shaped, slightly flattened, hairless, and 1/25 to 1/8 inch (1–3 mm) long. They have about 5 thick, angled ribs.


Wild celery reproduces by seed. Seeds disperse with water, soil, equipment, and other human activities and possibly as a contaminant in seed or feed.

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