Managers Volunteers Partners


Additional Images

Common Name: Goatsrue
Scientific Name: Galega officinalis
Origin: Europe and eastern Asia


Goatsrue is an herbaceous, shrub-like, multi-stemmed and deep-rooted perennial legume that grows between 2 and 6 feet in height. Mature leaves are alternate and pinnately compound with six to ten pairs of leaflets. Each leaflet has a small hair-like appendage on its tip. The stipule is sagittate (arrow shaped), toothed and lobed. Goatsrue produces white to blue or purple, pea-like flowers, arranged in terminal or axillary racemes, and are present from June to October. Each flower produces a seed pod, containing 1 to 9 seeds and each plant can produce up to 15,000 pods. Seeds are bean-shaped with a dull yellow color.


Goatsrue has a high tolerance for a wide range of soils and habitats. It spreads easily throughout wet and wet-mesic disturbed areas including streambanks, ditches, cropland and pastures, roadsides, forest edges and marshy areas. It prefers full sun but can tolerate partial shade.


Goatsrue can form monocultures, displacing beneficial native plants and destroying wildlife habitat, including forage and nesting resources. It is toxic to humans and livestock, and can be fatal if ingested, as its stems and leaves contain a poisonous alkaloid.


For sites with few plants, dig up plants, removing as much root as possible so the plants will not resprout. Mowing, clipping and cutting are not recommended, because the plant still flowers when cut short, but can be used effectively as part of an integrated pest management strategy. Herbicides, including glyphosate and triclopyr (Garlon 3A), are effective. Herbicide should be applied prior to flowering, to avoid seed development. Multiple treatments each year may be necessary as goatsrue has shown staggered germination, and several years of treatment may be necessary to exhaust the seed bank.

Regional Distribution

Approaching Region

The nearest location of goatsrue to WNY PRISM is in McKean County, PA, just south of the NY/PA state line. Within NYS, goatsrue has been reported in Onondaga and Tompkins County (Finger Lakes PRISM region).

WNY PRISM Priority

Tier 1 – Raise Awareness

Invasive Species Priorities – Tier Chart


Goatsrue reproduces by seed which is spread by construction equipment, mowers, animal manure and water. Goatsrue seeds can remain viable for up to 10 years.

Native Alternatives 

Wild licorice (Glycyrrhiza lepidota)

Goat’s rue (Tephrosia virginiana)

Additional Resources

Goatsrue FactsheetKing County Noxious Weed Control Program

Goatsrue (Galega officinalis) Identification and Management in Pastures and Croplands – Utah State University

Weed of the Week – USDA Forest Service