Common Rue Plant Information
Common Rue grows in the following 17 states:Connecticut, District Of Columbia, Illinois, Maryland, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Alabama, California, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Texas, Virginia
Ruta graveolens, commonly known as rue, common rue or herb-of-grace, is a species of Ruta grown as an ornamental plant and as an herb. It is native to the Balkan Peninsula. It is now grown throughout the world in gardens, especially for its bluish leaves, and sometimes for its tolerance of hot and dry soil conditions. It is also cultivated as a medicinal herb, as a condiment, and to a lesser extent as an insect repellent.
The Tacuinum Sanitatis, a medieval handbook on wellness, lists these properties of rue:
The refined oil of rue is an emmenagogue and was cited by the Roman historian Pliny the Elder and the gynecologist Soranus as a potent abortifacient (inducing abortion).
Rue does have a culinary use if used sparingly, but it is bitter and gastric discomfort may be experienced by some individuals. Although used more extensively in former times, it is not a herb that is typically found in modern cuisine, and is today largely unknown to the general public and most chefs, and unavailable in grocery stores. It is a component of berbere, the characteristic Ethiopian spice mixture, and as such is encountered in Ethiopian cuisine.
Rue is also grown as an ornamental plant, both as a low hedge and so the leaves can be used in nosegays.
Most cats dislike the smell of it, and it can, therefore, be used as a deterrent to them (see also Plectranthus caninus).
Caterpillars of some subspecies of the butterfly Papilio machaon feed on rue, as well as other plants. The caterpillars of Papilio xuthus also feed readily on it.
In South India, rue is recommended for home gardens to repel snakes (however the effectiveness is unknown).
Rue extracts are mutagenic and hepatotoxic. Large doses can cause violent gastric pain, vomiting, systemic complications, and death.
Exposure to common rue, or herbal preparations derived from it, can cause severe phytophotodermatitis which results in burn-like blisters on the skin.
A series of furanoacridones and two acridone alkaloids (arborinine and evoxanthine) have been isolated from R. graveolens. It also contains coumarins and limonoids.
Cell cultures produce the coumarins umbelliferone, scopoletin, psoralen, xanthotoxin, isopimpinellin, rutamarin and rutacultin, and the alkaloids skimmianine, kokusaginine, 6-methoxydictamnine and edulinine.
The ethyl acetate extract of R. graveolens leaves yields two furanocoumarins, one quinoline alkaloid and four quinolone alkaloids.
The chloroform extracts of the root, stem and leaf shows the isolation of the furanocoumarin chalepensin.
The essential oil of R. graveolens contains two main constituents undecan-2-one (46.8%) and nonan-2-one (18.8%).
The bitter taste of its leaves led to rue being associated with the (etymologically unrelated) verb rue "to regret". Rue is well known for its symbolic meaning of regret and it has sometimes been called "herb-of-grace" in literary works. It is one of the flowers distributed by the mad Ophelia in William Shakespeare's Hamlet (IV.5):
It was planted by the gardener in Richard II to mark the spot where the Queen wept upon hearing news of Richard's capture (III.4.104-105):
It is also given by the rusticated Perdita to her disguised royal father-in-law on the occasion of a sheep-shearing (Winter's Tale, IV.4):
It is used by Michael in Milton's Paradise Lost to give Adam clear sight (11.414):
Rue is used by Gulliver in "Gulliver's Travels" (by Jonathan Swift) when he returns to England after living among the "Houyhnhnms". Gulliver can no longer stand the smell of the English Yahoos (people), so he stuffs rue or tobacco in his nose to block out the smell. "I was at last bold enough to walk the street in his (Don Pedro's) company, but kept my nose well with rue, or sometimes with tobacco".
Rue is mentioned in the Bible, Luke 11.42: "But woe unto you, Pharisees! For ye tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs".
In mythology,[clarification needed] the basilisk, whose breath could cause plants to wilt and stones to crack, had no effect on rue. Weasels who were bitten by the basilisk would retreat and eat rue in order to recover and return to fight.
Rue is considered a national herb of Lithuania and it is the most frequently referred herb in Lithuanian folk songs, as an attribute of young girls, associated with virginity and maidenhood. It was common in traditional Lithuanian weddings for only virgins to wear a rue (ruta) at their wedding, a symbol to show their purity. Likewise, rue is prominent in the Ukrainian folklore, songs and culture.
In the Ukrainian folk song "Oi poli ruta, ruta" (O, rue, rue in the field), the girl regrets losing her virginity, reproaching the lover for "breaking the green hazel tree". "Una Matica de Ruda" is a traditional Sephardic wedding song.
"Chervona Ruta" ( -"Red Rue")-a song, written by Volodymyr Ivasyuk, a popular Ukrainian poet and composer. Pop singer Sofia Rotaru performed the song in 1971. More recently Rotaru performed in a rap arrangement.
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