Goats-rue is an herbaceous perennial in the legume family (Fabaceae). Each plant tends to form a crown and ranges 2-6 feet tall. A plant may have 20 stems and a deep taproot. The first seedling leaves are large, oval, and dark green. Mature leaves are alternate, odd-pinnate with six to ten pairs of leaflets. Each leaflet has a small hair-like projection on its tip. The stems are hollow cylindrical, and tubular. The stipule (leaf-like appendage at the base of the leaf
stem) is sagittate (arrow shaped) and toothed and lobed. The white and bluish to purplish pea-like blossoms
are borne in terminal or axially racemes. Flowering begins in June and continues until frost in the fall. Each
blossom produces a straight, narrow, smooth pod, which points outward and is angled slightly upward from
the stem. There are 1- 9 seeds per pod and there may be upwards of 15,000 pods per plant. Goats-rue seeds
are bean-shaped, dull yellow in color, and about 2 1/2 times larger that alfalfa seeds. Seeds drop to the ground
when mature and may be spread by water, equipment, or animal manures. Goats-rue seed typically remain
dormant until scarified and may remain viable for ten years. Goat’s-rue thrives in marshy fields, meadows, woodlands, sunny forest edges, semishaded fields and along roadsides and stream banks. The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. The plant prefers moist soils that are acid, neutral or basic (alkaline). It prefers full sun, but will tolerate light shade.
Invasive Plants of the Eastern United States, http://www.invasive.org/eastern/other/goatsrue.html (accessed January 26, 2017).