Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Goat's Rue, Devil's Shoestring
Tephrosia virginiana

Family: Papilionaceae (pa-pil-ee-uh-NAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Tephrosia (tef-ROH-see-uh) (Info)
Species: virginiana (vir-jin-ee-AN-uh) (Info)

4 vendors have this plant for sale.

5 members have or want this plant for trade.

Alpines and Rock Gardens

24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

12-15 in. (30-38 cm)
15-18 in. (38-45 cm)
18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

USDA Zone 3a: to -39.9 C (-40 F)
USDA Zone 3b: to -37.2 C (-35 F)
USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)
USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)
USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun

All parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:
Mid Summer
Late Summer/Early Fall


Other details:
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds
Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
This plant may be considered a protected species; check before digging or gathering seeds

Soil pH requirements:
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:
Unknown - Tell us

Propagation Methods:
From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall
From seed; winter sow in vented containers, coldframe or unheated greenhouse
From seed; stratify if sowing indoors

Seed Collecting:
Collect seedhead/pod when flowers fade; allow to dry
Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

Click thumbnail
to view:

By jackieshar
Thumbnail #1 of Tephrosia virginiana by jackieshar

By olmpiad
Thumbnail #2 of Tephrosia virginiana by olmpiad


1 positive
2 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive jackieshar On May 27, 2006, jackieshar from Texas/Okla central border
United States (Zone 7b) wrote:

Growing healthy in colonies on nutrient poor sandy alkaline soils in Oklahoma..hard to transplant from taproot......reseeds pest, deer and rabbits avoid it

Neutral tcfromky On Oct 11, 2004, tcfromky from Mercer, PA (Zone 5a) wrote:

Goat's rue with it's cream colored standard and pink petals and keel is an unusual combination of colors. It is a legume with soil building capabilities and is found in very acid soils. It is difficult to grow.

Goat's rue is a source of rotenone, a substance poisonous to cold blooded animals but not warm blooded. Indians pulverized the root, bark, stems and sometimes leaves and tossed this substance into a pool of water. Fish were poisoned or stunned by the rotenone and floated to the top allowing the Indians to gather the fish. The plant used to be fed to goats to increase their milk production.

Neutral Ivey On May 28, 2001, Ivey from Lyles, TN wrote:

Plant contains insecticide, needs more investigation as a home-grown insect killer.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Keystone Heights, Florida
Savannah, Georgia
Stillmore, Georgia
Custer, Kentucky
Haskell, Oklahoma
Thackerville, Oklahoma
Conway, South Carolina
Walkerton, Virginia

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