Goatsrue is a perennial herb that can be from 2 - 6 feet tall. Its pea like flowers vary from light purple to white and resemble those of a vetch, and they are found in clusters at the tops of the stems and from leaf axils. Goatsrue differs from a vetch because it is upright, not clambering, and lacks tendrils on the tips of the leaves. Roots are deep and persistent.
Legal status in King County, Washington
Goatsrue has a very limited distribution in Washington state, and the only known field locations are in King County. As a Class A noxious weed, eradication is required. It is sometimes offered for sale as a garden ornamental, but goatsrue is on the Washington quarantine list (known as the prohibited plants list) (external link) and it is prohibited to transport, buy, sell, offer for sale, or to distribute plants or plant parts, seeds in packets, blends or "wildflower mixes" of this species, into or within the state of Washington.. Goatsrue is also listed as a federal noxious weed.
King County currently has only a few known sites mostly in Federal Way, and they are all being actively controlled. We also work with neighboring county noxious weed control programs to alert them about locations. Goatsrue is very difficult to eradicate once established and it is very important to act quickly to control any new infestations. Goatsrue was introduced to Utah where it quickly spread to cover over 60 acres infesting cropland, irrigation waterways, pastures, fence lines, roadways and wet marsh areas. Goatsrue is fatal if ingested and eradication efforts have been costly and time consuming in Utah. We are working to prevent the same thing from happening in Washington State.
Additional information on goatsrue
What to do if you find this plant in King County, Washington
Please notify us if you see goatsrue growing in King County. Our program staff can provide the property owner or appropriate public agency with site-specific advice on how best to remove it. We map all known locations of regulated noxious weeds such as goatsrue in order to help us and others locate new infestations in time to control them.
Goatsrue (Galega officinalis) photos - click thumbnail for larger image