Goat's rue

  • Tephrosia virginiana


Brood coverFood
Goat's rue's structureSeedpods shatter readily

Goat's rue's structure makes it valuable for brood habitat.

Upon maturity, goat's rue seedpods shatter readily and may throw seeds a considerable distance. Seedpods are covered in dense, silver hairs.

Scott Sudkamp, Missouri Department of Conservation photos

Leaves are pinnately compound

Leaves are pinnately compound, with lance-shaped leaflets.

Scott Sudkamp, Missouri Department of Conservation


Flowers consisting of pink and yellow petals are quite distinctive and beautiful.

Jim Rathert, Missouri Department of Conservation


This member of the bean family is readily identified by its striking flower, which consists of a cream-colored upper petal above two bright pink lower petals. Leaves are alternate, compound and usually hairy, with a pointed, hairlike tip. The plant may grow up to 30 inches tall. It is most common in savannas and sandy prairies. Upon maturity, the long, flattened seedpods shatter easily.

Bloom period

May to July

Use by bobwhites

Bobwhites may eat the seeds of this legume and may use it as brooding habitat as well. Goat's rue is common on glades, savannas, woodlands and prairies, and its presence often indicates good quality habitat. Unfortunately, it is difficult to establish from seed.