HISTORICAL HINTS: Its generic name comes from the Greek language and means “salvation and freedom”. According to the ancients, rue was able to protect from poisonous mushrooms, was an antidote against snakes venom and kept dangerous animals and poisonous insects away from houses. The Romans spread the use of rue in all Europe and later, in the Middle Age, it became one of the herbs to be hung on the neck in order to defend oneself from the plague and from the devil. As rosemary, rue was used in tribunals to limit the contagion of fever in jails. Rue was known for its property to preserve eye functions and it was said to favour a “second sight” acting on the third eye. Both Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo are said to have improved their internal perception thanks to this herb.
THE PLANT - Common rue (Ruta gradevolens) belongs to the Rutaceae family that usually grows on the rivers of Alpine lakes, at low altitude. It is an evergreen perennial rustic plant with ramified stems, 80 cm tall, with tripennate blue-green leaves. It has yellow flowers with a central pentamerous and other tetramerous. The fruit is a lobed capsule. Rue is native to southern Europe, especially to the Mediterranean area where it vegetates on arid, rocky, poor and well drained soils. It bears also fresher climates and it has managed to spread also in Northern Europe, Northern America and Australia.
PROPERTIES - This ancient officinal herb has stimulating, eupeptic, antispasmodic, carminative and anthelmintic properties. It relieves from colics, nervous headache, palpitations and hypertension. It strengthens bones, teeth, and capillary vessels thanks to the rutin. Rue also lessen menstrual pains and can be used to wash overstrained eyes.
CULINALRY USE - Il suo più famoso uso è quello in infusione per aromatizzare grappe e altri distillati. Finemente tritata ed in piccole quantità apporta un sapore muschiato a piatti di uova, pesce e formaggio. È piuttosto amara.
CONTRAINDICATIONS - Rue must be given by doctors or expert phytotherapists only. Taken in excessive doses it provokes a severe general intoxication, mental confusion, abortion and even death.