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Goat's Rue, Virginia Tephrosia, Catgut, Hoary-pea, Rabbit-pea - Tephrosia virginiana


Family: Fabaceae - Pea family Genus Common Name: Hoarypea Native Status: NativeDicot Perennial Subshrub Herb
Tephrosia virginiana - Goat's Rue, Virginia Tephrosia, Catgut, Hoary-pea, Rabbit-pea. Tephrosia virginiana - Goat's Rue - is the most widely distributed species in the Tephrosia - Hoarypea - genus, being found in every state east of the Mississippi River except for Vermont, and also in a number of states west of the Mississippi. There is apparently some disagreement as to plants classified in this genus, because I've seen it variously described with from 32 to 350-400 species in the genus. Tephrosia virginiana is Endangered in New Hampshire and classified as Special Concern in Rhode Island and Minnesota.

Goat's Rue contains rotenone, a chemical used as an insecticide and pesticide. The plant also was reportedly used by native Americans to stun fish for easy harvesting.

Found in:
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

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Tephrosia virginiana

Distribution of Tephrosia virginiana in the United States and Canada:
USDA Plants Distribution Map temporarily unavailable.
Blue=Native; Grey=Introduced

Map from USDA Plants Database:
USDA, NRCS. 2017. The PLANTS Database (http://plants.usda.gov, 13 Dec 2017). National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.

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Site: Nickajack Road, Walker County, GA Date: 2013-June-15Photographer: Gerald C. Williamson
Nikon D7000
Tamron SP 90MM f/2.8 AF Macro
The inflorescences are dense racemes usually held above the leaves. The bi-colored flower is readily identified as a pea by its shape. The standard is a creamy white to yellow color, and the keel and wings are pink to rose.
Tephrosia virginiana

Site: Nickajack Road, Walker County, GA Date: 2013-June-15Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
Tamron SP 90MM f/2.8 AF Macro
The outside of the calyces are quite hairy, as are the stems. The individual flowers may point in any direction.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Tephrosia virginiana

Site: Nickajack Road, Walker County, GA Date: 2013-June-15Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
Tamron SP 90MM f/2.8 AF Macro
Goat’s Rue grows up to about two feet tall. It may have several stems from the base, forming a bushy-looking plant, but those stems will usually not branch.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Tephrosia virginiana

Site: Nickajack Road, Walker County, GA Date: 2013-June-15Photographer: Gerald C Williamson
Nikon D7000
Tamron SP 90MM f/2.8 AF Macro
The alternate leaves of Tephrosia virginiana also easily place the plant in the pea family. They are odd-pinnate with up to 25 leaflets which are up to about an inch long. The leaflets may be sessile or on a short petiolule.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Tephrosia virginiana

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All content except USDA Plants Database map Copyright Gerald C. Williamson 2017
Photographs Copyright owned by the named photographer