Friday, May 25, 2012


I don't Rue the day I became acquainted with Rue.

Rue (Ruta graveolens) is an herb with feathery green-blue leaves, and yellow flowers blooming in late spring.  Historically, it was a symbol of sorrow and repentance, and was called the herb-of-grace in medieval times.  It was considered a reliable defense against witches and warding off the plague in the middle ages, but I don't think there is much scientific evidence to back those claims up.

The leaves are tiny and deeply-lobed, and look good as a background in any garden.  I planted a row in the back of my herb garden, and often congratulate myself for my great landscape sense...

The flowers, five yellow points, appear in early spring and last for a month or two.

Rue is a great looking garden plant, but I don't advise using it for anything other than a great looking garden plant.  It can be poisonous, causes severe gastric distress when ingested, and the oil on the leaves can cause a severe skin rash in some people.  But still, doesn't it look great?


  1. I grow rue only for the black swallowtail butterfly since it is a host plant. I already have had 2 cats growing on it, weeks earlier then last year!

  2. We started some rue plants for Dr. Doris Goldman of Renfrew a few years back.  Here is the entry from her book Moon Rue and Mary's Root:

    "RUE (Ruta graveolens). Also known as herb-of-grace, the Raude is a Mediterranean perennial herb related to oranges. It was grown by Romans to prevent spasms, counteract poisons, or sharpen failing sight, and was in German gardens by 800 A.D. Rue was scattered on courtroom floors to kill fleas.

    Medicinal uses: The blue-gray, somewhat poisonous citrus-flavored leaves were put in spirits and used as a stomachic called Raude-bidders. The sap was used deliberately to cause blistering (a medical treatment until late 1800s) in the treatment of urinary problems. Some people are allergic to rue and get a rash from handling it; by the 1700s, cases of human poisoning or abortion had been noted. With its rounded three-part leaves and flat heads of greenish flowers, rue is a striking addition to gardens, but it is barely hardy here, and should be put into loose or sandy soil in a warm location well away from children."

  3. I've also read to place it next to roses to ward off Japanese beetles. I put one next to my roses last year and didn't notice many if any of these beetles. Jean S.