Dictamnus

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Dictamnus

 

(dittany, or fraxinella), a genus of perennial herbs of the family Rutaceae. The odd-pinnate leaves resemble the leaves of the ash tree. The large pink, white, or lilac flowers are irregular and pentamerous; they are gathered in racemes. The fruit is a deeply five-lobed capsule.

There are six species (according to other data, two), distributed in the temperate and subtropical belts of Eurasia. D. albus grows in the southern Ukraine in steppes, in light forests, and amid shrubbery. D. caucasicus occurs in the southern European USSR and the Caucasus. The inflorescences produce a great deal of essential oil, and during hot weather the air around the plants can be ignited by a lighted match. Skin contact with the essential oil can result in burns. Young shoots are sometimes used as spice. D. albus is cultivated as an ornamental.