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Goatsrue identification and control: Galega officinalis

Goatsrue identification and control

Galega officinalis

Flowering goatsrue plant

Goatsrue is a toxic, perennial herb that can be from 2 - 6 feet tall. Its pea like flowers vary from light purple to white and resemble those of a vetch, and they are found in clusters at the tops of the stems and from leaf axils (where the leaf attaches to the stem). Goatsrue differs from a vetch because it is upright, not clambering, and lacks tendrils on the tips of the leaves. Roots are deep and persistent. Animals may become ill or die if they ingest goatsrue.

Legal status and locations in King County, Washington

Goatsrue has a very limited distribution in Washington state. As a Class A noxious weed, eradication is required. It has been offered for sale as a garden ornamental in the past, but goatsrue is on the Washington quarantine list (known as the prohibited plants list) and it is prohibited to transport, buy, sell, offer for sale, or to distribute plants or plant parts, seeds in packets, blends or "wildflower mixes" of this species, into or within the state of Washington. Goatsrue is also listed as a federal noxious weed, meaning import into the United States is restricted. For more information, see Noxious weed lists and laws.

Most of the known infestations in King County are in Federal Way, and they are all being actively controlled. Goatsrue is very difficult to eradicate once established and it is very important to act quickly to control any new infestations. Goatsrue was introduced to Utah where it quickly spread to cover over 60 acres infesting cropland, irrigation waterways, pastures, fence lines, roadways and wet marsh areas. Goatsrue is fatal if ingested and eradication efforts have been costly and time consuming in Utah. In King County, the infestations have been reduced significantly in area, but the populations persist due to the very long-lived seed bank, requiring multiple visits and repeated control work each year to keep the plants from going to seed and re-infesting the area.

Additional information on goatsrue

What to do if you find this plant in King County, Washington

Please notify us if you see goatsrue growing in King County. Our program staff can provide the property owner or appropriate public agency with site-specific advice on how best to remove it. We map all known locations of regulated noxious weeds such as goatsrue in order to help us and others locate new infestations in time to control them. Because this plant is toxic to animals, notify any livestock owners about this plant if you see it in an area that is being actively grazed or being used for hay production.

Goatsrue (Galega officinalis) photos

goatsrue in a field
goatsrue flowers
goatsrue flowering stems
closeup of goatsrue leaves
patch of goatsrue
goatsrue plant
goatsrue in seed (photo by Steven Dewey)
goatsrue seedlings
goatsrue flowers and seed pods
goatsrue plant with root

Report goatsrue in King County, Washington

Locate goatsrue in King County, Washington

Related information

Related agencies

Program offices are located at 201 S. Jackson St., Suite 600, Seattle, WA 98104. To contact staff, see the Noxious Weed Control Program Directory, send an email, or call 206-477-WEED (206-477-9333).