Meadow Rue

Thalictrum dasycarpum – Meadow Rue

Meadow RueThalictrum dasycarpum, T.occidentale

Thalictrum = tha-lik-trum, from the Greek name of the plant;

Identification: This erect perennial herb rises 50 – 100 cm tall, from a yellowish root. Its basal and stem leaves are 2-3 ternate, the leaflet usually obovate-cuneate or orbicular, 3-lobed and coarsely crenate, the petioles dilated at the sheathing bases. The flowers are small, usually numerous in cluster, almost looking like chandeliers. Petal-like sepals are greenish.

Distribution & Habitat: In moist woods and meadows, from the Yukon to California and Saskatchewan to Utah and Colorado.

Preparation & Uses: The young leaves are quite tasty, almost like Chinese snow peas. Often mistaken for columbine, many references say that meadow rue doesn´t taste good. I find both quite tasty.

Blackfoot Indian girls used to tie the flower or seed bunches in their hair. Girls felt it was a great love medicine, capturing the first male who saw them. There are several other tribes of Amerindians who also felt meadow rue was a love potion. It was given to a quarrelling couple. The Ojibwa and Potowatomi, for example, would secretly placed the seeds in the couple’s food to overcome the quarrelling. The seeds were applied in poultices to stop cramps. The roots of purple meadow rue (T. dasycarpum) has been used as a purgative and diuretic, being listed in the U.S. Dispensatory of 1916. An infusion of the root was used to reduce fevers in many tribes, especially the Ojibwa. The roots contain berberine, and therefore have uses somewhat similar to barberry and goldenseal. The root was chewed and swallowed to reduce phlegm, improve blood circulation, for heart palpitations, to stop diarrhea, vomiting and occasionally as a panacea.