Ruta graveolens 芸香

Rutaceae 芸香科

Common Rue1



Whole plant.2


  • Toxic Constituents
    Major toxins are unidentified. Other toxins: volatile oils such as 2-Undecanone, 2-Undecanol, pinene and cineole; skimmianine.2,4,5
  • Toxic Dose
    300 g over 3 days has been reported to cause toxicity.6
  • Mechanism
    The exact mechanism for the major toxic features remains unidentified. The volatile oils are irritants to skin. Animal study showed that skimmianine has inhibitory effect on serotonin-induced vasopressor responses.2,6,7
  • Poisoning Features
    Skin contact: irritant contact dermatitis. Ingestion: vomiting, abdominal pain, miscarriage, dizziness, convulsion, liver impairment, renal impairment; multi-organ failure and death in severe cases.2,4,5,8,9
  • Poisoning Events
    Misbelieving that R. graveolens is cardioprotective, a 78-year-old woman in Taiwan took the herbal decoction twice daily for 3 days, with each dose made from 50 g of the plant. She then developed bradycardia, hypotension, acute renal failure, liver impairment and coagulopathy. She recovered after receiving haemodialysis and intensive care. Besides, multiple cases of poisoning after taking the plant as abortifacient have been reported in Uruguay; some cases developed multi-organ failure and died.6,9


Supportive treatment.


Perennial herbs, up to 1 m tall. Leaves bipinnate to tripinnate, 6–12 cm long; leaflets 5–30 × 2–5 mm, greyish green or bluish green. Flowers golden yellow, about 2 cm in diameter; calyx lobes 4; petals 4; stamens 8. Fruit 6–10 mm long, dehiscing from apex to middle; pericarp with many glandular-glands. Seeds about 1.5 mm long, reniform, brownish black.10


Whole plant used in TCM: dispel wind, clear heat, activate blood and dissipate stasis, induce diuresis, disperse swelling and remove toxin. Recommended dose: 3–9 g.2,11


Pinene and cineole can be detected by GC-MS. Skimmianine can be detected by LC-MS/MS.12,13