The plant badge of Clan Leslie is the Rue, Latin name Ruta Graveolens, a member of the Rutaceae family, which is related to the common citrus plants of oranges and lemons.

Rue is a perennial evergreen shrubby plant, common to southern Europe and taken to Britain by the Romans. The leaves are a green to bluish green colour and the flowers are a greenish yellow and in the northern hemisphere, it flowers in June, through to July. The whole plant has a strong unpleasant smell and due to its volatile oil, has a bitter acrid taste. The name Ruta is from the Greek reuo, [to set free], as this plant was and is still used to cure many complaints. It was used by Hippocrates and many of the other ancient Greeks and Pliny said that Rue was of great use in the preservation of sight in painters and that it was supposed to make the sight, both clear and sharp when the vision had become tired, through over exertion. In Britain, it was first mentioned by Turner in his Herbal of 1562 and has since been widely used for both home and medicinal uses.

Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci, both claimed that Rue improved their eyesight and it is still eaten by Italians in their salads. Piperno, a 17th century physician from Naples recommended Rue as a specific against epilepsy and vertigo. Rue brushes were used to sprinkle Holy water, preceding the celebration of High Mass and it is also known as the Herb of Grace and the Herb of Repentance.

The whole plant can be used as a herb, but the tops of the young shoots contain the greatest concentration of Rutin, a yellow crystalline body, which is distilled from the fresh herb. The leaves are best picked just before the plant flowers and should be dried quickly in the shade. It is used to alleviate pain in the joints and also sciatic pain, as well being an antispasmodic. To quote King's Dispensatory, "the action is chiefly directed upon the uterus, and is capable ofexciting menorrhagia, inflammation and miscarriage.

It had been successfully used in flatulent colic, hysteria, some nervous complaints, epilepsy and as an excellent vermifuge. Rue is a stimulant to the genito-urinary tract and in small doses, might prove a remedy in atonic conditions of those parts. Owing to its affinity for the nervous system, it relieves irritation and pain when administered in small amounts".

With its many beneficial uses, it would seem to be an excellent choice as a lucky charm and a fortunate choice as the plant badge for Clan Leslie although it is not known for certain when it was chosen as the Clan Leslie Plant Badge.

Barrie Leslie - 19th July 2002.

For all enquiries, please contact Barrie Leslie, Convenor of CLANZ

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