Tephrosia virginiana (L.) Pers.
Goat's rue, Virginia tephrosia, Devil's shoestring
Fabaceae (Pea Family)
Synonym(s): Cracca latidens, Cracca virginiana, Tephrosia latidens, Tephrosia virginiana var. glabra, Tephrosia virginiana var. holosericea
USDA Symbol: tevi
The flowers of goat’s-rue resemble bi-colored sweet peas. Lower petals are pink; upper petals are pale yellow. Pinnately compound leaves have 8-15 pairs of leaflets. Stems and leaves are covered with soft, white hairs giving the 1-2 ft. perennial a silvery appearance. Mature plants form attractive mounds. Bicolored, pea-like flowers, with pink wings and a yellow standard, crowded into clusters atop a hairy stem.
A distinctively silvery plant, Goats Rue has long stringy roots, to which the common name Devils Shoestrings refers. It was at one time fed to goats to increase their milk production, but since it contains rotenone (now used as an insecticide and fish poison), this practice has been discontinued. In the South, several white-flowering species occur (T. spicata, T. chrysophylla, etc.) with fewer flowers per cluster on the tips of long stalks. These flowers eventually turn pink, and the foliage is often distinctive because of brownish or golden hairs.
From the Image Gallery
Bloom InformationBloom Color: Pink , Yellow
Bloom Time: Apr , May , Jun , Jul
DistributionUSA: AL , AR , CT , DC , DE , FL , GA , IA , IL , IN , KS , KY , LA , MA , MD , MI , MN , MO , MS , NC , NE , NH , NJ , NY , OH , OK , PA , RI , SC , TN , TX , VA , WI , WV
Native Distribution: S. NH to WV, s. MI & extreme s.e. MN, s. to FL, TX & KS
Native Habitat: Open woods; sandy fields; dunes
Growing ConditionsLight Requirement: Sun , Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry
Soil Description: Sandy soils.
BenefitUse Wildlife: Attracts ground birds.
Use Other: Pounded roots used as a fish poison by indigenous people of southeastern North America.
Warning: POISONOUS PARTS: All parts. Low toxicity if eaten. Symptoms unknown. Toxic Principle: Tephrosin.
It contains rotenone, which is now used as an insecticide and fish poison. (Niering)
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
PropagationDescription: Propagate by seed sown unstratified in fall or stratified in spring.
Seed Collection: Collect in Aug. to Sep. Fruit is a narrow pod that is difficult to break.
Seed Treatment: Scarification, inoculation, moist stratification for 10 days.
Commercially Avail: yes
From the National Organizations DirectoryAccording to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:
Mt. Cuba Center - Hockessin, DE
BibliographyBibref 946 - Gardening with Prairie Plants: How to Create Beautiful Native Landscapes (2002) Wasowski, Sally
Bibref 1294 - The Midwestern Native Garden: Native Alternatives to Nonnative Flowers and Plants An Illustrated Guide (2011) Adelman, Charlotte and Schwartz, Bernard L.
Bibref 1243 - The Southeastern Indians (1976) Hudson, Charles
Bibref 328 - Wildflowers of Texas (2003) Ajilvsgi, Geyata.
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Additional resourcesUSDA: Find Tephrosia virginiana in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Tephrosia virginiana in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Tephrosia virginiana
MetadataRecord Modified: 2015-03-20
Research By: TWC Staff