Ruta graveolens is a type of Ruta cultivated as both an ornamental plant and an herb. This plant is identified by its bluish leaves and ability to thrive in hot and dry soil conditions. In addition to its aesthetic qualities, Rue is also used in culinary applications and as a natural insect repellent and incense.
Common Rue is native to the Balkan Peninsula but is now widespread all over the globe. It can grow to 2-3 feet (60-90 cm) in height and 1-2 feet (30-60 cm) in width. The leaves of the Common Rue are bluish-green, alternate, and bi-pinnate, meaning they have two sets of leaflets on either side of the stem. The leaflets are narrow and pointed, and the edges are slightly serrated. The leaves are the most commonly used part for culinary purposes. They have a strong, bitter flavor and are used sparingly as a seasoning in many dishes.
The flowers of Ruta graveolens are small, yellow, and arranged in clusters at the top of the stem. They have five petals and numerous stamens, and they are very fragrant. The fruit of the Common Rue is a small, woody capsule that contains several small, hard seeds that are round and black. The fruit is not edible and is primarily used for propagating new plants.
While consuming small amounts of Rue as a food flavoring is generally safe but taking large doses can lead to serious health problems, including gastric pain, vomiting, liver damage, and even death. Pregnant women should strictly avoid Rue, which can cause abortion and birth defects.