Chervona Ruta - healing spice
Ruta in Greek means "save." She gave the name to an extensive family of plants (rutovyh), which includes Amur velvet (cork tree), a beautiful, but very poisonous ash-tree (indelible bush) and citrus fruits: lemon, orange, mandarin.
Already two and a half thousand years ago, the rue was known to the ancient Greeks, they used it as a spice.
© Arek Cyniak
The homeland of the rue is the African and European coasts of the Mediterranean Sea. From here, it spread throughout Europe, the Middle East, Japan, and China.
The first to use the root as a medicine was King Mithridates VI Eupator (63 BC), the ruler of the Kingdom of Pontus, whose capital was located near present-day Kerch. There is a legend that King Mithridates was considered a great connoisseur of poisons and antidotes, he took in small doses all the then known poisons, and thus accustomed his body to their action. And when his army was defeated by the Romans, he could not poison himself and was forced to throw himself on his sword. Mount Mithridates near the city of Kerch, on which he died, bears his name. Since then, the root has spread to the Crimea, where it still grows wild everywhere.
With the light hand of King Mithridates, the root was considered a universal antidote for a very long time. It was used as a remedy for poisoning and bites of poisonous reptiles and insects. In ancient times they wrote about her: "... you will have a drink, and the hops will pass, eat raw and banish poisons."
In ancient Rome, it was considered a means against witchcraft. The Romans believed that the root helps from the evil eye. They carried it with them, hung over the door to protect themselves from poisons, werewolves and all sorts of misfortunes.
There is still a popular belief that snakes do not creep near places where the root grows.
In the Middle Ages, ruta is widely distributed in monastery gardens, due to its ability to relieve sexual arousal in men. The famous German doctor Bock (XVI century), wrote: "... All monks and religious people who want to preserve innocence and purity should constantly use ruta in food and drinks." She was also considered the best disinfectant. People rubbed the body with a rude to protect themselves from the plague, they disinfected the premises with its smoke.
This plant is mentioned in all medical writings of that time.
To date, the root is included in the pharmacopeia of 8 countries. It serves as a raw material for the preparation of numerous galenic preparations used to treat arthritis, articular rheumatism, neuralgia, as well as to obtain rutin. Infusion and decoctions from the root inhibit the development of Staphylococcus aureus, stop the growth of fungi - pathogens; juice from fresh leaves is a good antiseptic. Essential oil has bactericidal and anesthetic properties. In fact, the healing properties of the root are not fully understood. However, the use of root for therapeutic purposes requires great care and should only be carried out under the supervision of a doctor, with an overdose of root is poisonous. Therefore, in this article I will not consider extensive healing properties this plant, give recipes for the preparation of various preparations and methods of harvesting raw materials for these purposes. I will dwell on the description of the root as a spice and, even ... as an ornamental plant.
Ruta is a small perennial evergreen shrub with a height of 50-70 cm, with an upright branched lignified trunk and lower parts of the branches. Non-lignified shoots die annually. In severe winters without shelter, the entire terrestrial part may die, but is annually restored from the root. In the middle lane lives 20 or more years. The lignified parts of the plant have a straw yellow color. Leaves and non-lignified shoots are bluish green. Petiolate leaves, twice-thrice-cirrus, generally triangular or almost obovate. Containers (light spots) with essential oil are noticeable in the clearance in the leaves. Ruta owes this oil its Latin name Ruta graveolens - odorous root. The smell of the root is strong and quite heavy, and not everyone likes it. But when dried, the smell changes, it becomes pleasant and resembles the aroma of a rose, so it has been used as a spicy plant for many centuries.
Ruta is photophilous and drought-resistant, not demanding on soils, grows well on crushed, calcareous, carbonate, loamy. The plant tolerates drought better than excess moisture.
Flowering lasts from June to August. Ruta is a good honey plant, the bees buzz around her. Its inflorescence is loose corymbose, flowers are yellow with four petals. Fruits - a spherical box with four "compartments", on short legs and with small horns on each lobule. Dry inflorescences with fruits are very decorative and are used for dry bouquets. In the boxes are black seeds that ripen in September - October and retain germination for more than 5 years.
Ruta is a rather unpretentious plant, it does not require special cares, it grows in one place without reducing the yield, 5-6 years.
The bushes of the rue, due to its bluish-green, bluish lace foliage, are very decorative. Therefore, decorators often use it - they plant it on flower beds or plant it as a curbstone. Ruta tolerates a haircut.
Ruta is propagated by seeds. If you collected seeds from your plants, then it is better to sow them before winter, because the first 4-5 months. after collection, the seeds do not germinate. Packaged seeds can be purchased at seed stores. In particular, I bought the seeds of the agricultural company "Semko" and sowed them for seedlings in March-April in seedling boxes, the seeds sprouted together after 7-10 days. After the threat of freezing frost had passed, the seedlings were planted in a permanent place according to the scheme of 20-25x50-60 cm. Then I replanted the plants more than once. Ruta perfectly transfers the transplant.
In the first year, seedlings usually do not grow above 10-12 cm. For the winter you can cover them, this ensures that most young plants overwinter. In my case, there was no shelter, but all the bushes wintered, even the ground part was preserved, perhaps this is due to the favorable weather of that winter. In the future, plants can not be covered. True, then they grow back in the spring later and the first time, until a lot of branches appear, they are not decorative.
In the spring, frozen, dead branches should be cut to the first bud and feed the plant with nitrogen fertilizer (preferably urea).
You can also propagate the root by dividing the bush or green cuttings, which are rooted under a film cover.
Ruta has no diseases and pests, but young bushes can be suppressed by weeds, so they need to be weeded regularly.
This plant can cause skin irritation, burns, so it is advisable to place it where a person has less contact with him. Just in case, all work with the root is best done with gloves.
Use in cooking.
The leaves and seeds of the root are used as spices in dried form. As noted above, when dried, they acquire a pleasant aroma. Ruta is seasoned with salads, lamb stew, meat fillings, omelettes, fish dishes, potato soups. The plant is used for canning. Sandwich sandwiches with cream cheese are in especially good harmony with the spicy bitter taste of the root (perhaps the recipe for this cheese has ancient roots, remember, at the very beginning of the article it was said that the ancient Greeks used spices from the root ?, so, there is evidence that the Greek philosopher Socrates, inviting one of his friends to visit, promised to treat him with cheese and root ...).
The original taste and smell are flavored with vinegar.
Since this plant has a strong aroma and taste, it should be added to food as a spice in moderation.
In order to use the root as a spice, it is necessary to harvest its greens before flowering or at the very beginning. Non-lignified leafy branches with a length of not more than 20 cm are cut with secateurs with buds and 1-2 blossoming flowers. Dried in the shade in bunches. Raw materials must be green. Store in a dark, dry place. In the light, the root quickly fades, almost to white, and loses activity. Store no more than two years.
For the first time, the Russian variety of vegetable rue, Lacemaker, is zoned. It compares favorably with a more "elegant" appearance.