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Galega officinalis - Fabaceae Family 

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  • Flowers. The flowers are pea-like and white to bluish lilac to reddish purple. They are found at the end of stems or in leaf axils.
  • Seeds:  Seeds are bean-shaped and dull yellow in color. Seeds grow in narrow pods, with 1-9 seeds per pod. A single plant can produce up to 15,000 pods.
  • Leaves: The leaves are alternate and compound with a terminal leaflet and 6 to 10 pairs of leaflets.
  • Flowering Time:  Goatsrue flowers from June until the fall frost.
  • Life cycle:  Goatsrue sprouts in early spring and begins to produce flowers and fruits from mid-summer through fall. The seeds contained in these fruits can then remain viable in the soil for up to 10 years.  


  • Goatsrue contains a toxic alkaloid that in large concentrations can be fatal to humans and many herbivores, including all livestock.
  • Spreading quickly through riparian and similar areas, Goatsrue forms monocultures and greatly reduces biodiversity, displacing native and beneficial plants and reducing resources for wetland wildlife.
  • Goatsrue can easily contaminate alfalfa fields as its seeds are very similar in shape and size to those of alfalfa.


Most effective control methods

  • For small infestations, shallow cultivation, mowing, clipping, and cutting are not recommended. The plant will flower and produce seed even when cut short.
  • Grazing is not a control option, as Goatsrue is very toxic to livestock. Burning is not a viable method either, as fire stimulates root sprouting.
  • There are currently no known biological control agents for Goatsrue.
  • Selective herbicides such as 2.4-D/Dicamba are effective in controlling Goatsrue. Treatment is most effective when done before flowering for 2 to 3 consecutive years.

Large Images


Steve Dewey, Utah State University,

Goatsrue: infestation



Steve Dewey, Utah State University,

Goatsrue: flowers



USDA APHIS PPQ - Oxford, North Carolina , USDA APHIS PPQ,

Goatsrue: foliage



USDA APHIS PPQ - Oxford, North Carolina , USDA APHIS PPQ,

Goatsrue: flowers



Rob Routledge, Sault College,

Goatsrue: flowers and foliage



USDA APHIS PPQ - Oxford, North Carolina , USDA APHIS PPQ,

Goatsrue: infestation



Julia Scher, Federal Noxious Weeds Disseminules, USDA APHIS PPQ,

Goatsrue: seed pod




Goatsrue: seeds


  • Goatsrue Fact Sheet

  • References

    Dings, E. (2015, December 9). Goatsrue. Retrieved from

    DiTomaso, J.M., G.B. Kyser et al. (2013). Weed Control in Natural Areas in the Western United States [PDF file]. Weed Research and Information Center, University of California. Retrieved from View PDF

    Graham, J. & Johsnon, W. (2007, April 17). Managing goatsrue [PDF file]. Retrieved from View PDF

    Invasive Species Compendium. (2017, November 22). Galega officinalis (goatsrue). Retrieved from

    Oregon Department of Agriculture Noxious Weed Control Program. (2015, February). Noxious weed pest risk assessment for goatsrue [PDF file]. Retrieved from View PDF

    Washington State Noxious Weed Control Board. Goatsrue. Retrieved from