Rue - Ruta graveolens

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Rue is a small citrus herb that grows to only about 12-24 in. in height and is a perennial. Some people have a reaction to the plant when handling it. To be safe it may be best to wear gloves rather than touch plant with bare hands. Last year I had a reaction to it. I had been pulling up some seedlings that I didn't want with my bare hands, in the sun. Then a day or so later blisters appeared on my hand. The spots where the blisters were remained discolored for many weeks.


is a Host Plant for Giant Swallowtails and Black Swallowtails

Giant Swallowtwail butterflies use citrus plants as host, possibly including Rue. Black Swallowtails will also sometimes use Rue, but seem to prefer plants of the carrot family.


Where to buy

Some nuseries sell Rue, but it is also fairly easy to grow from seed. Johnny's Seeds is one place that sells them. Seeds take about 10-14 days to germinate. The plants will reseed themselves too.


Current status of this plant in my garden (last updated: 3/09)

I only have one rue plant left in my garden. While Black Swallowtails do lay eggs on it, they don't grow as quickly as when they are on fennel or parsley.



The Citrus/Rutaceae Family

There are about 12 native species of the Citrus Family (Rutaceae) in N. America. Most members of the family are shrubs and trees and rarely herbs. Rue is one example of a Citrus family herb.




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