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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)


Alpines and Rock Gardens


Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Characteristics:

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


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 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


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

Morrilton, Arkansas

Keystone Heights, Florida

Savannah, Georgia

Stillmore, Georgia

Custer, Kentucky

Haskell, Oklahoma

Thackerville, Oklahoma

Conway, South Carolina

Walkerton, Virginia

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


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 easily..no pest, deer and rabbits avoid it


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.


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

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