We have been getting a lot of questions about growing Rue, also known as Ruta (Italian) or Ruda (Spanish).
This herb comes from the Balkan Peninsula which is located in Europe, across the Adriatic Sea from Italy and it extends into the Mediterranean Sea. It includes the countries of Greece, Turkey, Bosnia, Slovenia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Herzegovina, Romania, Croatia, Macedonia, and Montenegro, a very big area.
Rue is actually a variety of small evergreen shrubs, that grow from about 7.5 inches to around 22.5 inches in height. They have a strong evergreen smell and are a bright bluish-green in color, with small yellow flowers.
We use to sell a good variety of seeds and plants at Trader's Village San Antonio, space 1187 and week after week, people have been asking if we have ruta. We did not know what it was so we said no. It never occurred to us that they were saying the name of the seed in Spanish. I had my computer with me this past weekend and I looked it up when another lady asked for it.
To my surprise, Google told me that Ruta is the herb Rue, which we have been selling for five years. Fortunately, I was able to show her that Ruta is Rue in English so she bought a pack of seeds. She said she wanted to plant it in her yard for a blessing. Then she proceeded to tell me that if you plant certain herbs in certain places in your yard, by your home, that they would be protected and blessed. So I decided to do some research. The lady who asked for Ruta this past Sunday said it blesses your home.
Growing rue in the heat and dry conditions of Texas is about perfect. Turns out rue loves the heat and does well in dry climates. Here in San Antonio, we have been in a drought now for four years so it looks like this herb will be a perfect fit in Texas yards.
Rue aka Ruta aka Ruda is an herb that can be toxic if eaten. (So don't eat it!) The plant's essential oil is the part of the plant that is poisonous. I found some pages on the internet that say it can be given for stomach ailments in very minute amounts and that it is also used to induce abortion. I would not put it in my body at all. Touching the plant can cause irritation and blistering to skin so wear gloves. This is not a good plant to have around small children or pregnant women.
If you want to keep cats away from areas of your yard, try growing rue as cats don't like the scent.
Some butterflies are attracted by and eat rue so if you like butterflies, you will want some in your yard.
Some use the flowers in water as an eyewash for sore or tired eyes. Again, I would not do this based on what I have read about it.
This herb is regarded as magical and is used in love spells and in protection spells. It is said to ward off The Evil Eye. People wear a sterling silver Rue charm or carry a pinch of the actual herb. The ancient Greeks used it to ward off witches.
Some people put a small amount above the front door of their home on the inside for protection from The Evil Eye, or from those who are envious of their good fortune.
A tea can be made from this herb and then can be sprinkled around the outside of the home for protection, which is what the lady at Trader's Village San Antonio was talking about.
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