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Galega officinalis - L.

Common Name Goat's Rue, Professor-weed
Family Fabaceae or Leguminosae
USDA hardiness 4-8
Known Hazards A few reports exist, none of them in Britain, of toxicity to mammals[76], though the plant is often fed to cows and goats in order to increase their milk yield[238].
Habitats Scrub, woods, marshy fields and roadsides[187].
Range S. Europe to W. Asia. Naturalized in S. Britain.
Edibility Rating    (2 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (3 of 5)
Care (info)
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Galega officinalis Goat

Galega officinalis Goat


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Galega officinalis is a PERENNIAL growing to 1.2 m (4ft) by 0.8 m (2ft 7in) at a fast rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 4. It is in flower from June to July, and the seeds ripen in August. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Insects.
It can fix Nitrogen.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


G. bicolor. G. persica. G. tricolor.

Plant Habitats

Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade; Meadow;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Leaves
Edible Uses: Curdling agent

Leaves - cooked[2]. Used like spinach[177, 183]. Some caution is advised due to reports of possible toxicity. The herb is used as a substitute for rennet in curdling plant milks etc[183].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Diaphoretic  Diuretic  Galactogogue  Hypoglycaemic

Goat's rue was once important in the treatment of plague, fevers and infectious diseases[238]. It is still used in modern herbalism, though mainly for its effect in promoting milk-flow in lactating mothers (it has been shown to increase the flow of milk in cows and goats by 35 - 50%[4, 7, 238]) and for its positive effect on the digestive system[238]. The plant contains galegine, an alkaloid that strongly reduces blood sugar levels which make it useful in the treatment of diabetes[254]. The leaves and flowering tops are diaphoretic, diuretic, galactogogue and hypoglycaemic[4, 7, 21, 165]. It has also been used in the treatment of fevers[4, 7]. It is taken internally to treat insufficient lactation, late-onset diabetes, pancreatitis and digestive problems, especially chronic constipation caused by a lack of digestive enzymes[238]. The plant is harvested as it is just coming into flower and is dried for later use[4]. Some caution is advised, see notes above on toxicity.

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Cosmetic  Green manure

A fast-growing plant, it makes a good green manure crop, enriching the soil with organic matter and also fixing atmospheric nitrogen[7]. The plant is used cosmetically in hand and foot bathes[7].

Special Uses

Nitrogen Fixer

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Succeeds in most soils but repays generous treatment[1, 200]. Prefers full sun and a deep moist soil[1, 4] but it also succeeds in light shade[200]. Grows well even in poor soils[233]. Plants are very tolerant of neglect and can be grown in quite coarse grass, which can be cut annually in the autumn[233, 238]. A long-lived plant[1], it can be invasive in good growing conditions[200]. This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby[200].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Plant Propagation

Seed - pre-soak for 12 hours in warm water and then sow the seed in spring or autumn in a cold frame[111, 200]. Spring-sown seed can be slow to germinate, a period of cold stratification may improve the germination time. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out into their permanent positions in the summer. If you have sufficient seed, then it is possible to sow outdoors in situ in mid to late spring. Division in spring or autumn[111]. Larger clumps can be replanted direct into their permanent positions, though it is best to pot up smaller clumps and grow them on in a cold frame until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the spring.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Native Range

TEMPERATE ASIA: Turkey TROPICAL ASIA: Pakistan (north) EUROPE: Czechoslovakia, Austria, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Former Yugoslavia, Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, Romania, Spain, France AFRICA: Algeria (north), Morocco

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Readers comment

Andrei Gamulea   Sun Nov 5 2006

AMN ROMANIA Roumanian national association for Unconventional medicine

lorene   Thu Nov 15 2007

I am trying to find out which part of Galega officinalis is used to lower blood sugar levels. I have heard legume, and I have heard root - do you have accurate references on this? Many thanks

C. Floyd herbal consultant

Nevena Noveski   Sun May 31 2009

Some commertial instant teas contain Galega officinalis and are recomanded to increase lactation. Is it safe to use this plant during lactation,is there a possibility of unwanted toxic effects to a child?

Angel Demetrio   Sun Sep 20 2009

Can I find this plant GALEGA in VENEZUELA would it grow here? I am diabetic. THANK YOU. GBY

   Nov 29 2010 12:00AM

I grew this plant in Ohio, USA this year. Planted two plants and got a huge volume of biomass. produced lots of seeds, is on the invasive list in America. Another N2 fixer that gets the bad wrap so that more roundup and synthetic fertilizer can be sold. Does a good job of self mulching and is still growing in late November despite several hard frosts. Was cut back and still got to be huge volumes of biomass. It is a part of my paw paw (Asimina triloba) guild with Sunchoke, horseradish, echinecea, comfrey, and mint.

   Feb 8 2014 12:00AM

I would like to find a text or link in which the use of Galega officinalis would be good for the heart. I wonder if this herb, or the dried root of it, can be applied for the pancreas and spleen working, mucus problems (due to dairy?), heart problems because of too much (hard) mucus.

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