Water Celery, Water Dropwort

Oenanthe javanica, formerly O. stolonifera


Also Korean watercress, minari (Korean), seri (Japanese)

This leafy aquatic plant belongs to the family Apiaceae (or Umbelliferae), which also includes parsley, celery, lovage, and mitsuba (Japanese parsley). Roll them all together and you have the celery-parsley tang and fresh aroma that characterize water celery, grown in East Asia, Southeast Asia, and Hawaii, where it was transplanted by settlers from the Far East.

It is particularly popular in Japan as seri, which “grows along streams and marshes and is best from autumn to spring, although it is picked year-round”, according to A Dictionary of Japanese Food by Richard Hosking, who writes that it is used in sukiyaki, soups, and salads, and with chicken. More specifically, he describes it as an element of nanakusagayu (“seven-herb rice gruel”), which is “eaten on January 7 to avoid illness throughout the coming year, being regarded as a medicine. City dwellers can often buy little sets of the herbs in supermarkets.”