Commonly known as dittany or “burning bush”, Dictamnus albus L. is a long-lived perennial herb belonging to the family Rutaceae, ad is characterized by thick storage roots. The potential lifespan of an individual is estimated to be at least 30 years. Each individual usually produces one stem that bears many white-purple flowers, on a long raceme. Flowering begins after 5-7 years and occurs between the end of April and May. Fruits are star-shaped capsules composed of 5 carpels; the black pear-shaped seeds are dispersed autonomously, with a maximum dispersal distance of approximately 4 m.
Like most species of Rutaceae (e.g. rue and citruses), plants ofD. albus are characterized by oils, which are found both in leaves and in oil glands disposed throughout the stem and flowers. Handling plant may cause skin irritation or allergic reaction.
Typical habitat of D. albus is found at the fringes between woodlands and (semi)natural grasslands, or within open oak forests, in the southern warm-temperate regions of Europe and Central and Eastern Asia. In Italy, D. albus reaches its distribution limit: in Emilia-Romagna this species is present with isolated populations.