Botanical Survey of India | Flora of India

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Ruta chalepensis L., Manl. Pl. 69. 1767. R. graveolens L. var. angustifolia Hook.f., Fl. Brit. India 1: 485. 1875, non R. angustifolia Pers. 1805.

Beng.: Ermul; Guj.: Satapa; Hindi: Pisamaram, Sadab, Satari; Kan.: Nagadalisop­pum, Simesdanu; Mal.: Nagadhali; Mar.: Satapu; Tam.: Arvadam chedi, Arvada; Tel.: Arudu, Serdapa.

Herbs, erect, glaucescent, 60 - 70 cm high; stem more or less angular, branches sinuate towards upper half. Leaves pinnatisect or pinnatipartite, pyramidal or oblong in outline, 2.5 - 8.5 cm long; leaflets heteromorphic, obovate, oblong-lanceolate or elliptic, 5 - 15 x 2 - 3 mm, terminal leaflet sometimes digitately 3-fid, obtuse to rounded at apex, margins entire or obscurely crenate, shortly petioluled or subsessile. Inflorescences 5 - 15 cm across, lax, dichasial or often flowers of lateral cyme develop in a helicoid fashion. Flowers widely opening, ca 10 mm across; bracts leafy, lanceolate, acuminate at apex, narrowed at base, crenate from middle to apex or otherwise entire along margins, 5 -7.5 x 2 - 2.5 mm; pedicels up to 10 mm long, elongating in fruits (12 - 15 mm long), glabrous. Sepals 4(5), foliaceous, equal or sometimes unequal in size, broadly ovate or deltate, acuminate at apex, entire or obscurely crenate along margins, ca 4 x 2 mm, green. Petals 4(5), patent, spathulate, concave, gibbous adaxially, obtuse, hooded at apex, ca 6.5 x 4.5 mm, yellow, pinnately nerved, shortly stiped below, stipe ca 1 mm long, margins irregularly fimbriate, fimbriules 2 - 3 mm long. Stamens 8 or 10, outer ones (antisepalous) exerted; filaments linear, subulate above, 5 - 7 mm long, glabrous; anthers dorsifixed, ovoid, obtuse at apex, cordate below, ca 2 mm long. Disk 8-or 10-lobed, ca 1 mm high, ca 4 mm broad. Ovary 4 - 5-carpellate, subglobose, carpels free to middle, lobes acute, ca 4 mm long, green, ovules 2 or 3 per locule, collateral; style ca 4 mm long, glabrous; stigma capitate, obscurely lobed. Capsule 4 - 5-lobed, 6- 8 mm across, lobes acute, pitted below, dehiscing inwardly at apex, endocarp crustaceous; seeds 1 - 2 per locule, ca 2 mm long, angled, pitted brown.

Distrib. India: Known only in cultivation in many parts of the country.

Mediterranean region, Atalantic Islands, S. Europe.

Notes. The whole plant is bitter, laxative, tonic, digestive, diuretic, emmanagogue and antiaphrodisiac. It yields an essential oil with properties similar to that of 'Garden Rue Oil'. Decotion of leaves is used in fever. In large doses it acts as an acronarcotic poison. The essential oil is used in hysteria, ammenorrhoea, and epilepsy. Leaves are used in salads and as flavouring agent.

This species has often been confused with Ruta graveolens L. by many Indian botanists who reported it as such, attributing many of the properties known for the latter to it. However, both these species are distinct in having certain unique floral, cytological and phytochemical features. (See, Ramanathan & Ramachandran in J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 70: 238. 1973). In R. chalepensis petals have characteristic ciliate or fimbriate margins, and capsules are with very sharply pointed lobes while in R. graveolens petals are with more or less undulate or denticulate margins and capsules have obtuse or bluntish lobes. In R. chalepensis chromosome number is reported as 2n = 36 whereas in R. graveolens 2n = 72 or 81. Similarly, the essential oil extracted from R. chalepensis contain methyl heptyl ketone while that from R. graveolens has mainly methyl nonyl ketone.

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