Rue (Ruta) is a genus of strongly scented evergreen subshrubs 20-60 cm tall, in the family Rutaceae, native to the Mediterranean region, Macronesia and southwest Asia. Different authors accept between 8-40 species in the genus. The most well-known species is the Common Rue.
The leaves are bipinnate or tripinnate, with a feathery appearance, and green to strongly glaucous blue-green in colour. The flowers are yellow, with 4-5 petals, about 1 cm diameter, and borne in cymes. The fruit is a 4-5 lobed capsule, containing numerous seeds.
It was used extensively in Middle Eastern cuisine in olden days, as well as in many ancient Roman recipes (according to Apicius), but because it is very bitter, it is usually not suitable for most modern tastes. However, it is still used in certain parts of the world, particularly in northern Africa.
- "There's fennel for you, and columbines:
- there's rue for you; and here's some for me:
- we may call it herb-grace o' Sundays:
- O you must wear your rue with a difference..."
It was also planted by the gardener in Shakespeare's Richard II to mark the spot where the Queen wept upon hearing news of Richard's capture (III.4.104-105):
- "Here did she fall a tear, here in this place
- I'll set a bank of rue, sour herb of grace."
- "An inquisitive glance, like the shadows, they cast
- On my Love picking rue by the light of the Moon."
- "Absinthe and Rue
- twisted wings of paranoia
- twilight runs through eyes of ignorance..."
Many traditional English folk songs use rue to symbolise regret. Often it is paired with thyme: thyme used to symbolise virginity, and rue the regret supposed to follow its loss.
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.
Rue is probably best known for its effects on the female reproductive tract. Chemicals in rue may stimulate muscles in the uterus, which, in turn, may initiate menstrual periods, act as contraceptive agents, and promote abortion. Rue is thought to contain chemicals that may decrease fertility and may also block the implanting of a fertilized egg. In male laboratory animals, oral doses of rue decreased the movement and number of sperm and reduced the desire for sexual activity. Even though rue is a mainstay of midwives in many developing countries, its risks generally outweigh any benefits it might have for contraception or abortion. Deaths have been reported due to uterine hemorrhaging caused by repeated doses of rue. Taking it orally is strongly discouraged.
Occasionally, rue oil is applied to the skin to relieve arthritis pain and also for treating soft tissue injuries such as bruises and sprains. Rue may contain chemicals that interrupt the body’s release of nitric oxide and cyclooxygenase II (which are involved in producing inflammation), so it may have limited usefulness. Prescription anti-inflammatory drugs are more effective and safer, however. The source from this http://www.drugdigest.org/DD/DVH/HerbsWho/0,3923,552392%7CRuda,00.html
Songs associated with rue
- Harmal (Peganum harmala), an unrelated plant also known as "Syrian rue"
Kathleen Battle, American soprano, has recorded the song cycle "Honey and Rue" written by composer Andre Previn in collaboration with the Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison.