Herb of Grace

Here it is!  Lovely “Herb of Grace” blooming happily in my garden.  Several years ago I read that the herb “rue” (Ruta graveolens) was a good companion plant for raspberries as it repelled Japanese beetles, so I planted seeds.  Herb of Grace, or rue, has taken up residence in my raspberry patch.  I love its bright yellow flowers and soft green leaves.

008 Walking through my garden each day, I’ve gotten in the habit of stopping by to pick off a couple leaves and enjoy the spicy, aromatic flavor of rue.  It’s a flavor hard to describe.

Not knowing much about the plant, I was curious to know more, and guess what?  There is LOTS more.  How fun to learn about all the amazing plants God has given to us.  An endless adventure for sure.

Ruta graveolens (also known as herb of grace, rue, garden rue, and herbygrass) is a hardy perennial herb plant that is drought tolerant.  Ruta comes from the Latin meaning “bitter” and graveolens meaning “having a strong or offensive odor.”  Its aerial parts are edible and used to flavor salads, egg and cheese dishes.

Rue has been used as a healing herb since time immemorial.  During the early days of the Roman Empire, the herb was considered to be beneficial for over 80 complaints!  The Roman scholar Pliny claimed that using rue helped to protect the eyesight.  Leonardo de Vinci and Michelangelo claimed that rue improved eyesight and helped artists find their inner vision.

And why is it called “herb of grace”?  Some researchers claim it was used in the early Roman Catholic Church to sprinkle holy water on the people during worship, thus bestowing grace upon them.

011“Here did she fall a tear, here in this place I’ll set a bank of rue, sour herb of grace.”

Shakespeare’s Richard II (III.4.104-105)