Rue is a medicinal and culinary bitter herb native to the Balkan Peninsula. It has been used in the Mediterranean at least as far back as the Ancient Romans, where it was included in a recipe for an antidote for snakebite by Pliny the Elder. In addition, the Tacuinum Sanitatis, the famous 11th century Islamic medical treatise, lists rue as being useful for sharpening the eyesight and reducing flatulence. In the Catholic church, rue is used to sprinkle holy water and is thus known as the “herb of grace.”
Rue was used extensively in classical Roman and Near Eastern cooking as a flavoring. Though it should be noted that like most strong aromatic herbs, rue can be toxic in large quantities, but the Romans prized it as an addition to sauces, as a flavoring for meat and fish, and as a garnish.
In addition to rue’s many uses, its soft bluish compound leaves and yellow flowers make a nice addition to any herb garden. It requires little water once established, and does very well in poor soils.
Growth Form/Defining Characteristics: soft bushy herb, up to 3’
Light: part shade-full sun
Water: drought tolerant once established
Soil: well-draining or sandy soil
Hardiness: USDA 4-9