Domestic Programs Pest Evaluation. Arthur E. Miller, USDA-APHIS-PPQ, AERO, Raleigh, NC. November 16, 2001
Scientific name: Galega officinalis (Fabaceae)
Physical description: Goatsrue is a seed-propagated perennial. Each plant tends to form a crown and ranges 2-6 feet tall. A plant may have 20 stems and a deep taproot. The first seedling leaves are large, oval, and dark green. Mature leaves are alternate, odd-pinnate with six to ten pairs of leaflets. Each leaflet has a small hair-like projection on its tip. The stems are hollow cylindrical, and tubular. The stipule (leaf-like appendage at the base of the leaf stem) is sagittate (arrow shaped) and toothed and lobed.
The white and bluish to purplish pea-like blossoms are borne in terminal or axially racemes. Flowering begins in June and continues until frost in the fall. Each blossom produces a straight, narrow, smooth pod, which points outward and is angled slightly upward from the stem. There are 1-9 seeds per pod and there may be upwards of 15,000 pods per plant. Goatsrue seeds are bean-shaped, dull yellow in color, and about 2 ½ times larger that alfalfa seeds. Goatsrue seed typically remain dormant until scarified and may remain viable for ten years.
Origin and North American Distribution: Goatsrue was introduced from the Middle East to Utah in 1891 as a livestock forage, but it is unpalatable and lethal to sheep. It has been found recently in PA, NY, & WA.
Quarantines: It is a Federal Noxious Weed with a very limited distribution nationwide. It is a State Noxious Weed for PA & NV.
Dispersal: Seeds drop to the ground when mature and may be spread by water, equipment, or animal manures.
Control: Property managers and cooperators may use these strategies:
Economic impact: Goatsrue is toxic to ruminants. The alkaloid content is highest in the spring. Animals will avoid the goatsrue, which contributes to the establishment and spread in rangeland. It is found in established alfalfa fields. The plant is considered an ornamental species and a medical herb. Eradication efforts are costly and time consuming.
Environmental impact: Goatsrue is capable of forming a monoculture in wetland communities, displacing native or beneficial plants.
Benefits of control: Eradication of goatsrue can restore pastures and other land to productivity.
|Bargeron, C.T., D.J. Moorhead, G.K. Douce, R.C. Reardon & A.E. Miller |
(Tech. Coordinators). 2003. Invasive Plants of the Eastern U.S.:
Identification and Control. USDA Forest Service - Forest Health
Technology Enterprise Team. Morgantown, WV USA. FHTET-2003-08.