What is the species?
- Galega officinalis (goatsrue)
- ODA “A” rank
- USDA Noxious Weed
Goatsrue was intentionally introduced in Utah in the late 1800s, and has spread to several other states, including Oregon and Washington, in recent years.
Why are we concerned?
Goatsrue is known to form dense patches that begin in open, disturbed areas. Plants have deep, tough roots and produce seed that can survive for 30 years in the soil. All parts of the plant are toxic to livestock, especially sheep and goats. Goatsrue infestations can lead to:
- Reduced plant and animal diversity as other species are displaced
- Increased health hazards to livestock
How does it spread?
Goatsrue is primarily spread by seeds, but may be spread by fragments, as well. Goatsrue seeds and fragments are moved around by:
- Tires and machinery
- Hiking boots
- Haying and other agricultural practices
What does it look like?
Goatsrue is in the pea family, so shares a flower shape with its cousins, such as vetches and Scots broom. Flowers are a pale purple to dark purple and occur in large clumps on 3-4 foot tall stems. Goatsrue’s upright, hollow stems help distinguish it from common vetches.
Are there any lookalikes?
When not in flower, many plants, particularly vetches and other roadside pea species, can be mistaken for goatsrue. Its tall, upright, and hollow stem, though, make it sufficiently unusual in the off-season.
How do we deal with it?
- Manual: Digging has not been attempted; given its deep roots, manual removal is not expected to be a good long-term management strategy.
- Herbicide: Trials are currently being conducted throughout the Portland area to determine the most effective herbicide and rate.
How can folks help?
If you suspect you’ve found goatsrue, call either the City of Portland's Bureau of Environmental Services, contact the Oregon Department of Agriculture or make a report on the Oregon Noxious Weeds hotline. Goatsrue should be positively identified before management is attempted, to prevent unintended damage to related native species. The ODA also REQUIRES landowners to report the presence or suspicion of target species like goatsrue.