African Rue

Invasive Species of the Month: October 2012

African rue (Peganum harmala)

Also Known As

Harmal peganum, Syrian rue

General Description

African rue is a perennial herb that is native to Africa and the Mediterranean region. It can quickly infest rangelands and wildlife habitats and is toxic to animals and humans. African rue reproduces primarily by seed, though severed roots can also produce new shoots.

Growth Habit

African rue has a bushy appearance with many branches and a woody taproot system. It grows low to the ground and can reach 2–3 feet tall and 3–4 feet in diameter.


Leaves are alternate, irregularly and deeply divided, bright green, and 0.9–2 inches long.


White 5–petal flowers with prominent yellow stamens occur on pedicels along the upper half of the stem and are present from April through September.

Seeds and Fruit

Seeds are encased in a green capsule that dries and bursts open when the plant reaches maturity.


African rue can be found in dry, disturbed areas such as fields and desert areas, along roadsides, and near livestock watering facilities.

Additional Resources

Species Identification and Characteristics
Colorado Department of Agriculture Fact Sheet (PDF)
Colorado Weed Management Association Fact Sheet Images and Overview
Texas Invasives Fact Sheet
Toxic Plants of Texas Profile

Management and Control Resources
Observations on Chemical Controls of African Rue and Syrian Beancaper in Western Nevada: University of Nevada Cooperative Extension (PDF)


Past "Invasive Species of the Month" Profiles