goat's rue indiana dunes

Family:     Fabaceae (Pea or legume family)

Duration:  Perennial

Height:     30 - 60 cm (1-2 ft)

Blooming: June-July


Goat's Rue

Tephrosia virginiana  L. Pers.

Stem: covered in soft hairs, green to silverish and usually unbranched.

Flowers: large, bi-colored flowers with pink lower petals (also called the lateral wings) and vanilla or yellow upper petals (also called the banner). The large flowers can be 2 cm (almost an inch) wide positioned in whorls on the plant.  

Leaves: silvery green due to the dense hair, alternately arranged with 11-23 leaflets.

Sun: full sun to filtered shade

Ideal Conditions: full to partial sun in sandy, dry conditions


Tephrosia virginiana Howes Prairie INDU.JPG
goat's rue indiana dunes

CommentsGoat's rue contains a compound called, rotenone, which is a fish poison, pesticide, and insecticide.  It is commonly named goat's rue because it was at one time fed to goats.

Etymology: The genus, Tephrosia, comes from the Greek word tephros meaning "ashes". This name is due to its silvery, ash color caused by the hairs on its stems and leaves.  

all photos by Nathanael Pilla

Landscape: The bi-colored flowers are definitely eye pleasing. Birds love the seeds! Their low stature and ability to form dense colonies makes them pleasant border plants.

Species Present and Native