Goat's Rue (Tephrosia virginiana)
Pea Family (Fabaceae)
Goat's Rue is a multi-stemmed (usually), perennial herb, growing to 1-2 feet tall and arising from deep stringy woody roots. Most of the plant is covered in soft, silky, white hairs, especially when found in the full sun. Stems are very hairy, erect to reclining or sprawling, light green to reddish-purple, and unbranched or sparingly branched. The usually hairy odd-pinnately compound leaves have 9-25, oblong to narrowly elliptic leaflets. Borne in compact terminal racemes, the typical pea flowers are bicolored with the lower petals being pink to rose and the upper petals yellow to pale greenish yellow to tan, with slight purple mottling at base. Flowers from April through August. The fruit is a silky-hairy, narrowly cylindrical and slightly flattened, brownish pod. The large roots contain rotenone, which is used as an insecticide and fish poison. It was at one time fed to goats to increase their milk production, but has been discontinued due to the rotenone. Found in rocky open woods, glades, oak or oak-pine woodlands, savannas, dunes, and prairies in the central and eastern US and Canada. Prefers full to partial sun, dry sandy soil, and fire-maintained communities. Also known as goat-rue, Virginia tephrosia, and devil's shoestring.
Listed as endangered in NH and species of concern in MN and RI.