Worldwide: Native to northern Africa, Europe, Turkey and Pakistan (USDA-ARS 2016Footnote 3). Introduced in Canada, the United States, Argentina, Chile and New Zealand (CABI 2016Footnote 4).
Duration of life cycle
Seed or fruit type
Seed length: 3.1 - 5.0 mm
Seed width: 1.5 - 2.2 mm
Seed thickness: 1.0 - 1.5 mm
Seed long oval with a side notch, compressed
Seed dull, slightly roughened
Most seeds are a dull greenish-yellow, some are reddish-brown
Hilum is round and surrounded by a ring of raised tissue
Furrow evident between radicle and cotyledons
Habitat and Crop Association
Old fields, pastures, rangelands, grasslands, fencelines, shores, riverbanks, roadsides and disturbed areas (Darbyshire 2003Footnote 1, CABI 2016Footnote 4). Reported as a weed in alfalfa (Whitson et al. 2000Footnote 5).
Goat's-rue has a history of use as a bee plant, forage and medicinal plant (USDA-ARS 2016Footnote 3). It was initially introduced into Utah in the 1890s as a forage plant, but was found to contain an alkaloid toxic to livestock (Tingey 1971Footnote 6).
Since its introduction, this species has infested moist, waterlogged and acidic soils in pastures and old fields in Utah. It is proving difficult to eradicate in those habitats (Lasseigne 2003Footnote 7).
Oriental goat's rue (Galega orientalis)
Oriental goat's-rue seed are a similar size, long oval shape and round hilum as goat's-rue.
Oriental goat's-rue seeds have a pointed base, glossy surface and a shallow or no radicle furrow. Goat's-rue seeds are dull with a round base and pronounced radicle furrow.