Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide


Galega officinalis



Galega officinalis (goatsrue)


  • Last modified
  • 25 November 2019
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Pest
  • Host Plant
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Galega officinalis
  • Preferred Common Name
  • goatsrue
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • Galega officinalis forms dense thickets and competes with and reduces yields of forage plants. Goatsrue produces a toxic alkaloid, galegin, which lowers blood pressure and paralyzes the central nervous system....

  • Principal Source
  • US Federal Noxious Weed List (draft fact sheet 2011)

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Galega officinalis L.

Preferred Common Name

  • goatsrue

Other Scientific Names

  • Galega bicolor Boiss. & Hausskn. ex Regel
  • Galega patula Steven

International Common Names

  • English: common goatsrue; galega; professorweed; professor-weed
  • Spanish: alfalfa galega
  • French: galega officinal

Local Common Names

  • Germany: Echte Geissraute
  • Italy: capraggine
  • Netherlands: geiteklaver

EPPO code

  • GAGOF (Galega officinalis)

Summary of Invasiveness

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Galega officinalis forms dense thickets and competes with and reduces yields of forage plants. Goatsrue produces a toxic alkaloid, galegin, which lowers blood pressure and paralyzes the central nervous system.

G. officinalis was added to the US Federal Noxious Weed list in 1983 and is regulated in 12 US states (USDA-NRCS, 2011).

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  •                     Order: Fabales
  •                         Family: Fabaceae
  •                             Genus: Galega
  •                                 Species: Galega officinalis


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G. officinalis is a shrubby, herbaceous perennial that can reach 2 meters (6 feet) in height. It is multi-stemmed with alternate pinnately compound leaves. Purple to white pea-like flowers are arranged in terminal or axillary racemes that bloom from June to July. These flowers give way to fruits, which are short pods containing up to 9 seeds.

Plant Type

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G. officinalis is a herbaceous perennial native to the Middle East. In 1891, it was intentionally introduced into the USA for study as a forage crop at Utah State University. When researchers discovered that the plant was unpalatable and toxic to cattle and horses, the research ended but the experimental stands of the plant were not destroyed. Over time, the plant spread following Utah’s valley irrigation systems. It now occupies areas of Washington, Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New York, in addition to Utah. Goatsrue grows best in wet disturbed areas, including streambanks, low pastures, and ditches.

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Last updated: 10 Jan 2020
Continent/Country/Region Distribution Last Reported Origin First Reported Invasive Reference Notes


AlgeriaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS (2011)
MoroccoPresentNativeUSDA-ARS (2011)


PakistanPresentNativeUSDA-ARS (2011)
TurkeyPresent, LocalizedNativeUSDA-ARS (2011); EPPO (2014)


AlbaniaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS (2011)
AustriaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS (2011)
BulgariaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS (2011)
CzechoslovakiaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS (2011)
Federal Republic of YugoslaviaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS (2011)
FrancePresentNativeUSDA-ARS (2011)
GermanyPresentNativeUSDA-ARS (2011)
GreecePresentNativeUSDA-ARS (2011)
HungaryPresentNativeUSDA-ARS (2011)
ItalyPresentNativeUSDA-ARS (2011)
PolandPresentNativeUSDA-ARS (2011)
RomaniaPresentNativeUSDA-ARS (2011)
RussiaPresent, LocalizedEPPO (2014)
SpainPresentNativeUSDA-ARS (2011)
United KingdomPresentCABI Data Mining (Undated)

North America

CanadaPresentCABI (Undated)Present based on regional distribution.
-OntarioPresentIntroducedInvasiveUSDA-NRCS (2011)
United StatesPresent, WidespreadEPPO (2014)
-ColoradoPresentIntroducedInvasiveUSDA-NRCS (2011)
-ConnecticutPresentIntroducedInvasiveUSDA-NRCS (2011)
-MainePresentIntroducedInvasiveUSDA-NRCS (2011)
-MarylandPresentIntroducedInvasiveUSDA-NRCS (2011)
-MassachusettsPresentIntroducedInvasiveUSDA-NRCS (2011)
-NebraskaPresentIntroducedInvasiveUSDA-NRCS (2011)
-New YorkPresentIntroducedInvasiveUSDA-NRCS (2011)
-PennsylvaniaPresentIntroducedInvasiveUSDA-NRCS (2011)
-UtahPresentIntroducedInvasiveUSDA-NRCS (2011)
-WashingtonPresentIntroducedInvasiveUSDA-NRCS (2011)


New ZealandPresent, LocalizedEPPO (2014)

South America

ArgentinaPresent, LocalizedEPPO (2014)
ChilePresent, LocalizedEPPO (2014)

Habitat List

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Terrestrial – ManagedDisturbed areas Principal habitat
Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalNatural grasslands Principal habitat
Riverbanks Principal habitat
Irrigation channels Principal habitat

Host Plants and Other Plants Affected

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Plant nameFamilyContext
Polyphagous (polyphagous)Main

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Uromyces galegae Pathogen

Pathway Causes

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CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Hitchhiker Yes
Research Yes

Pathway Vectors

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VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Plants or parts of plants Yes
Water Yes

Plant Trade

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Plant parts liable to carry the pest in trade/transportPest stagesBorne internallyBorne externallyVisibility of pest or symptoms
True seeds (inc. grain) seeds Yes

Impact Summary

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Biodiversity (generally) Negative
Economic/livelihood Negative

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
Impact outcomes
  • Monoculture formation
  • Negatively impacts agriculture
  • Negatively impacts human health
  • Negatively impacts animal health
  • Negatively impacts livelihoods
  • Threat to/ loss of native species
Impact mechanisms
  • Competition - monopolizing resources
  • Poisoning

Uses List

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Animal feed, fodder, forage

  • Forage
  • Invertebrate food


  • Ornamental


  • Ornamental

Human food and beverage

  • Honey/honey flora


  • Poisonous to mammals

Medicinal, pharmaceutical

  • Traditional/folklore


Top of page

Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health. “Goatsrue”. Accessed 17 June 2009.

Distribution References

CABI Data Mining, Undated. CAB Abstracts Data Mining.,

CABI, Undated. CABI Compendium: Status inferred from regional distribution. Wallingford, UK: CABI

CABI, Undated a. CABI Compendium: Status as determined by CABI editor. Wallingford, UK: CABI

EPPO, 2014. EPPO Global database (available online). Paris, France: EPPO.

USDA-ARS, 2011. Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Online Database. In: Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Online Database, Beltsville, USA: National Germplasm Resources Laboratory.

USDA-NRCS, 2011. The PLANTS Database. In: The PLANTS Database, Baton Rouge, USA: National Plant Data Center.

Principal Source

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US Federal Noxious Weed List (draft fact sheet 2011)

Distribution Maps

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