- Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Although a bitter herb, Rue (Ruta graveolens) is beautiful and unique, and well worth growing in your garden. The unique lobular leaves are attractive, and the plant is easy to grow. Rue is a hardy, evergreen, somewhat shrubby, plant that is a native of Southern Europe. The leaves are alternate, bluish-green, bi- or tripinnate, and emit a powerful, disagreeable odor and have an exceedingly bitter, acrid and nauseous taste. Place it away from seating areas for this reason, but that should not deter you from growing it. The greenish-yellow flowers are in terminal panicles, blossoming from June to September. In England rue is one of the oldest garden plants, cultivated for its use medicinally, having, together with other herbs, been introduced by the Romans. It is much less commonly grown in the United States but is available at garden centers that specialize in herbs. I have grown it before when I had a large raised herb garden, and it provided a unique contrast to other herb foliage.
Shakespeare refers to rue in Richard III:
'Here in this place
I'll set a bank of rue, sour herb of grace;
Rue, even for ruth, shall shortly here be seen,
In the remembrance of a weeping queen.'
'Herb of Grace", is a great ornamental that butterflies love. Thought to bring wealth and good fortune!
From A Modern Herbal by Ms. M. Grieve: “Rue will live much longer and is less liable to be injured by frost in winter when grown in a poor, dry, rubbishy soil than in good ground.” That certainly sounds like North Texas to me. It prefers some protection from the late afternoon sun.
Companionplants.com and http://www.thegrowers-exchange.com/articles.asp?ID=145 have them on line
Seeds can be obtained from http://www.johnnyseeds.com
Rue always comes with a warning because some people can react to the oils in the leaves, and it does have strong pharmacologic properties when taken internally. It is widely used has a medicinal herb, but its properties should not be taken lightly-please research thoroughly.