Syrian Rue (Peganum harmala)
It is a perennial plant about 0.3 m tall. The roots of the plant can reach a depth of up to 6.1 m, if the soil where it is growing is very dry. It blossoms between June and August. The flowers are white; the round seed capsules measure about 1–1.5 cm in diameter, have three chambers and carry more than 50 seeds.
This hardy and extremely drought-resilient plant is useful. Despite the name, it is not related to Rue, though it bears a similarity of appearance.
Rare. Peganum harmala was first planted in the US in 1928; it spread across the western half of the country. It does not grow wild within Nova Scotia, but may survive if cultivated.
- Smoke from the seeds kills algae, bacteria, intestinal parasites and molds.
- Is used as an antidepressant, analgesic and antiinflammatory agent, anthelmintic (to expel parasitic worms).
- Peganum harmala is an abortifacient, and, in large quantities, it can reduce spermatogenesis and male fertility in rats
- The stems, roots and seeds can be used to make inks, stains and tattoos; red or yellow dye can be made from the seeds -- red with alcohol, yellow with water.
It has strong traditional and spiritual meanings, and additionally, can be used to make Ayahuasca. In traditional uses of this plant, "mixed with other ingredients are placed onto red hot charcoal, where they explode with little popping noises, releasing a fragrant smoke that is wafted [around] those exposed to the gaze of strangers. As this is done, an ancient prayer is recited."
- Salsola received a number of Syrian Rue seeds from traveling trader Chione Keisari, who is likely to have picked it up in the western parts of the US or Canada.