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Arbor Gate's Picks
of the Month

Rue (Ruta graveolens)

November 9, 2018 Back to Picks >

Not all herbs are used primarily in cooking. With their culinary, aromatic, medicinal, economic, and purely decorative qualities, herbs are often referred to as “the useful plants.” Each month’s herb pick for 2018 will feature an example of the many and varied uses for herbs that can be grown in our region.

And in all cases, no matter what the herb, Arbor Gate Complete Soil and Arbor Gate Blend Fertilizer are recommended from transplanting throughout the life of the plant, whether in the garden or containers. Both will provide what your plants need: organic, well balanced, and enriched growing mediums, year around.

Rue, an historically interesting herb is perfect for Southern gardens, with its blue-green foliage, it’s eventual 2 – 3 foot height, and its attractiveness to swallowtail butterflies, for whom it’s an egg and larval haven. The larvae are dead ringers for bird droppings, which is apparently quite off-putting to hungry birds, who prefer to look elsewhere for lunch!

Certain religious traditions and connections with rue have given it the name of “herb of grace” — it is especially associated with the Eastern Orthodox church. It is also the national flower of Latvia.

Strongly flavored and bitter, the leaves are not popular with all cooks, but they are used occasionally, though sparingly, in Middle Eastern cuisines. Various insects avoid the strong odor of the leaves, and some traditional medical uses have been recorded.

Rue is easy to grow in full sun with good drainage, from seeds or divisions.
One Important Caution: Some individuals are sensitive to the oils in rue leaves, especially in intense sunlight. Be sure to wear trousers, long sleeves, and gloves, just in case, when working with the plants.