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Ruta graveolens - L.

Common Name Rue, Common rue, Herb of Grace, Garden Rue
Family Rutaceae
USDA hardiness 4-10
Known Hazards All parts of this plant are poisonous in large quantities[19]. It should not be used at all by pregnant women since it can induce abortions[165]. The sap contains furanocoumarins, sensitizing the skin to light and causing blistering or dermatitis in sensitive people[200].
Habitats Rocks, old walls and dry hills, mainly on limestone[89].
Range S. Europe.
Edibility Rating    (1 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (3 of 5)
Care (info)
Fully Hardy Well drained soil Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Ruta graveolens Rue, Common rue, Herb of Grace, Garden Rue

Ruta graveolens Rue, Common rue, Herb of Grace, Garden Rue


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Bloom Color: Yellow. Main Bloom Time: Early fall, Late summer. Form: Upright or erect.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of shrub
Ruta graveolens is an evergreen Shrub growing to 0.5 m (1ft 8in) by 0.5 m (1ft 8in) at a medium rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 5 and is not frost tender. It is in leaf all year, in flower from June to September, and the seeds ripen from August to October. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs).
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Ruta hortensis Mill.

Plant Habitats

Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade; Ground Cover; Cultivated Beds; East Wall. In. South Wall. In. West Wall. In.

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Leaves
Edible Uses: Condiment  Rutin  Tea

Leaves - raw or used as a seasoning[2, 7, 19, 21, 27, 89]. It is occasionally eaten in salads[4], but is strongly aromatic and slightly toxic, so should only be used in small quantities[7, 19, 148, 183]. The taste is strong and bitter[238]. The leaves contain rutin, which has a beneficial effect upon the circulatory system[218]. Some caution is advised, see notes on toxicity above. The leaves can be brewed into a tea[183].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Abortifacient  Anthelmintic  Antidiarrhoeal  Antidote  Antiinflammatory  Antispasmodic  Carminative  Emetic  
Emmenagogue  Expectorant  Haemostatic  Homeopathy  Ophthalmic  Rubefacient  Stimulant  

Rue has a long history of use as a domestic remedy, being especially valued for its strengthening action on the eyes[4]. The plant contains flavonoids (notably rutin) that reduce capillary fragility, which might explain the plants reputation as an eye strengthener[238]. Some caution is advised in its use internally, however, since in large doses it is toxic and it can also cause miscarriages[4, 7, 238]. The whole herb is abortifacient, anthelmintic, antidote, antispasmodic, carminative, emetic, emmenagogue, expectorant, haemostatic, ophthalmic, rubefacient, strongly stimulant, mildly stomachic and uterotonic[4, 7, 21, 165, 218]. The tops of fresh shoots are the most active medicinally, they should be gathered before the plant flowers and can be used fresh or dried[4]. An infusion is used in the treatment of hysterical affections, coughs, flatulence etc[4]. The juice of the plant has been used in treating earaches and chewing a leaf or two is said to quickly bring relief from giddiness, nervous headaches, palpitations etc[4]. An alkaloid found in the plant is abortifacient, anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic[218]. A homeopathic remedy is obtained from the fresh herb, harvested in early summer shortly before flowering begins[232]. This is used in the treatment of a variety of complaints including eye strain, headache and sprains[232].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Dye  Essential  Repellent  Strewing

The growing or the dried plant can be used to repel insects, it is most useful when the plant is grown near roses and raspberries[4, 14, 18, 20, 148]. The dried herb can also be put in the linen cupboard to repel moths[14, 18]. The growing plant is also said to repel cats[20]. A red dye is obtained from the plant[148]. An essential oil is obtained from the leaves and young shoots, it is used in perfumery and as a food flavouring[61]. The plant was formerly used as a strewing herb[148]. Plants can be grown for ground cover when planted about 45cm apart each way[208]. They can be trimmed back in spring to keep them bushy[208].

Special Uses

Ground cover  Scented Plants

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Landscape Uses:Border, Container, Massing, Rock garden, Specimen. Succeeds in any soil but is hardier in a poor dry soil[4, 37, 200]. Prefers an open sunny position[7, 182]. Prefers a partially shaded sheltered dry position but succeeds in full sun[1, 4, 200]. Prefers a well-drained or rocky soil[200]. Likes some lime in the soil[11]. Established plants are drought tolerant[190]. Hardy to about -10°c, possibly to lower temperatures when it is grown in a dry soil[187]. Often cultivated as a culinary and medicinal herb, there are some named varieties[187]. The bruised leaves have a pleasant orange-like fragrance[245]. It is one of the most pleasant herbs to inhale[245]. Rue releases its scent in a remarkable way. The essential oil is contained in a cavity immediately beneath the surface of the leaf, above which is a thin layer of cells pierced by a cavity in the middle. The cells swell up and bend inwards, pressing on the essential oil beneath, which is driven to the surface of the leaf and there released[245]. Rue is a poor companion plant for many other species, growing badly with sage, cabbage and sweet basil[14, 18, 20, 201]. It is a good companion for roses and raspberries[201]. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus[200]. Special Features:Attractive foliage, Edible, Not North American native, Suitable for cut flowers, Suitable for dried flowers.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Plant Propagation

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame[200], it can also be sown in early to mid spring in a cold frame[14, 27]. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Cuttings of young shoots in late spring[1]. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, July/August in a frame[200]. Very easy[K]. Layering in early summer. Old plants often self-layer[200].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

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Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Readers comment

Ana   Fri Mar 10 2006

Where is the reproductive biology?And it's safe uses? its modern uses? findings of scientifical studies? experiments with it?

Martha Griffith   Sat Aug 5 2006

I was told by my massage therapist- this plants tablets are usefull for strenthinging muscles tendons and such- is this true? Thanks. martha.

Afaq Ahmad (Delhi)   Sat Dec 9 2006

what is the optimum fertilizer requirement for the crop on a large scale basis. in a city like delhi where the summers are very hot and the winter cool,so tell me about the irrigation requirements.

   Mon Aug 6 2007

Stay well away from it! Causes an unbearable itching on the skin, which seems to last forever!

Mingxun Ren   Wed Dec 5 2007

Are there any materials on flower biology or reproduction ecology of the plant Ruta graveolens ? Please tell me where can I find these materials or would you kindly seend me some materials My Email is: [email protected]. Thank you!

gladys   Mon Sep 29 2008

where can i find this plant in maryland? thanks,

edy   Sat Oct 11 2008

as a kid i was told it kept snakes at bay and my mom wud wrap some of the leaves in a muslin cloth and put it under our pillows dont know y she donr that, if anyone knows the answers please tell me

do7a   Thu Nov 12 2009

what is the active constituent in Ruta angustifolia

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