Galega officinalis - L.
Common Milkpea
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Galega officinalis L. (TSN 26706)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.141903
Element Code: PDFAB1Q010
Informal Taxonomy: Plants, Vascular - Flowering Plants - Pea Family
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Plantae Anthophyta Dicotyledoneae Fabales Fabaceae Galega
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.
Concept Reference Code: B94KAR01HQUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Galega officinalis
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: GNR
Global Status Last Changed: 22Mar1994
Rounded Global Status: GNR - Not Yet Ranked
Nation: United States
National Status: NNA
Nation: Canada
National Status: NNA (12Oct2016)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Colorado (SNA), Connecticut (SNA), Maine (SNA), Maryland (SNA), Massachusetts (SNA), Nebraska (SNA), Nevada (SNA), New York (SNA), Pennsylvania (SNA), Utah (SNA)
Canada British Columbia (SNA), Ontario (SNA)

Other Statuses

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map
NOTE: The distribution shown may be incomplete, particularly for some rapidly spreading exotic species.

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States COexotic, CTexotic, MAexotic, MDexotic, MEexotic, NEexotic, NVexotic, NYexotic, PAexotic, UTexotic
Canada BCexotic, ONexotic

Range Map
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Ecology & Life History Not yet assessed
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Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Delineation Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank)
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Disclaimer: While I-Rank information is available over NatureServe Explorer, NatureServe is not actively developing or maintaining these data. Species with I-RANKs do not represent a random sample of species exotic in the United States; available assessments may be biased toward those species with higher-than-average impact.

I-Rank: Low/Insignificant
Rounded I-Rank: Low
I-Rank Reasons Summary: Galega officinalis has a limited and scattered distribution in the United States, due in part to the discovery of its toxicity to livestock and consequent designation as a federal noxious weed. It is currently subject to eradication or control efforts nearly everywhere it is known to occur. The largest infestation is in Cache County, UT; other establishment sites include King County, WA and a few scattered counties in PA and NY. A few collections have also been made from ME, MA, CT, MD, NE, and CO, but there is doubt that these populations persist. Invaded habitats include moist open grasslands, roadsides, cropland, stream banks, and marshes/wet meadows. Where well-established, the species can form monocultures and dense thickets in wetland communities, reducing food and nesting materials for wildlife. The Utah infestation has proven difficult and costly to eradicate, in part because seeds remain viable in the soil for 5-10 years. However, selective herbicides can achieve reasonably efficient control at less-entrenched sites.
Subrank I - Ecological Impact: Low/Insignificant
Subrank II - Current Distribution/Abundance: Low/Insignificant
Subrank III - Trend in Distribution/Abundance: Medium/Low
Subrank IV - Management Difficulty: High/Low
I-Rank Review Date: 10Apr2006
Evaluator: Gravuer, K.
Native anywhere in the U.S?
Native Range: Eurasia, including France, Spain, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, Romania, Yugoslavia, northern Algeria, Morocco, Turkey, and northern Pakistan (USDA ARS 2005).

Download "An Invasive Species Assessment Protocol: Evaluating Non-Native Plants for their Impact on Biodiversity". (PDF, 1.03MB)
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Screening Questions

S-1. Established outside cultivation as a non-native? YES
Comments: This species is a non-native that is established outside of cultivation (Kartesz 1999).

S-2. Present in conservation areas or other native species habitat? Yes
Comments: Invaded habitats include moist open grasslands (pastures, fields, meadows, and waste places), roadsides, cropland (e.g. alfalfa fields), stream banks (incl. irrigation waterways, canals, ditches), and marshes (Cronquist et al. 1989, Rhoads and Klein 1993, Evans 1996, Klugh 1998, Washington State Noxious Weed Control Board 2003, Welsh et al. 2003, Scher 2004, King County Noxious Weed Control Program 2005, Bugwood Network et al. 2006, WVDA 2006, Whitinger 2006).

Subrank I - Ecological Impact: Low/Insignificant

1. Impact on Ecosystem Processes and System-wide Parameters:Insignificant
Comments: This species was introduced to North America in 1891 (Washington State Noxious Weed Control Board 2003). Despite being present for over 100 years, no reports of impacts on ecosystem processes or system-wide parameters were found. Therefore, assume impacts insignificant.

2. Impact on Ecological Community Structure:Low significance
Comments: Can form monocultures and dense thickets in wetland communities (Washington State Noxious Weed Control Board 2003, Bugwood Network et al. 2006). However, the wetland communities it invades appear to be already largely dominated by herbaceous species, so impacts on community structure are probably limited to changes in density or cover of the existing herbaceous layer.

3. Impact on Ecological Community Composition:High/Moderate significance
Comments: Can form monocultures and dense thickets in wetland communities (Washington State Noxious Weed Control Board 2003, Bugwood Network et al. 2006). Wildlife dependent on these communities are then impacted by reductions in food and nesting materials (King County Noxious Weed Control Program 2005).

4. Impact on Individual Native Plant or Animal Species:Insignificant
Comments: No mention of disproportionate impacts on particular native species found in the literature; assumption is that any impacts are not significant. The species is known to be poisonous to livestock but herbivorous wildlife appear to largely avoid it (Klugh 1998).

5. Conservation Significance of the Communities and Native Species Threatened:Medium/Low significance
Comments: Detailed descriptions of the species' behavior in Utah, Pennsylvania, and Washington (Evan 1996, Klugh 1998, Washington State Noxious Weed Control Board 2003, King County Noxious Weed Control Program 2005) suggest that it invades both disturbed (roadsides, crop fields, irrigation ditches) and less-disturbed (marshes, wet meadows) habitats where it becomes established. Some of the less-disturbed habitats may feature high-quality community examples.

Subrank II. Current Distribution and Abundance: Low/Insignificant

6. Current Range Size in Nation:Insignificant
Comments: This species has a limited and scattered distribution in the United States. This is in part due to the discovery of its toxic effects on livestock and consequent designation as a federally listed noxious weed (USDA ARS 2005). The species is currently subject to eradication or control efforts in nearly every place it is known to occur (Evan 1996, Klugh 1998, Washington State Noxious Weed Control Board 2003, King County Noxious Weed Control Program 2005). The largest infestation is located in Cache County, Utah, where 38,000 acres (60 square miles) are infested to varying degrees (Evans 1996). Control efforts were begun at this site in 1976 but have still not succeeded in completely eradicating the plant (Washington State Noxious Weed Control Board 2003). There are also a few infested sites in King county, Washington, which are also subject to active control with the goal of eradication from Washington (King County Noxious Weed Control Program 2005). It is established in several scattered counties in Pennsylvania (Rhoads and Klein 1993), with at least the Philadelphia County (Morris Arboretum) infestation subject to active control (Klugh 1998). It has also been collected from several scattered counties in New York, with at least the Bronx infestations persisting currently (2004 collection listed in Weldy and Werier 2005); control status of these infestations is unknown. A few collections have also been made from Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maryland, Nebraska, and Colorado (Kartesz 1999, Rydberg 1932, Seymour 1989), but there is some doubt that these populations are persistent (Lasseigne 2003).

7. Proportion of Current Range Where the Species is Negatively Impacting Biodiversity:Medium/Low significance
Comments: Detailed descriptions of the species' behavior in Utah, Pennsylvania, and Washington (Evan 1996, Klugh 1998, Washington State Noxious Weed Control Board 2003, King County Noxious Weed Control Program 2005) suggest that it invades both disturbed (roadsides, crop fields, irrigation ditches) and less-disturbed (marshes, wet meadows) habitats where it becomes established. The percentage of infested area covered by the less-disturbed habitats was assumed to be between 5 and 50%.

8. Proportion of Nation's Biogeographic Units Invaded:Low significance
Comments: The species' widely scattered establishment sites appear to be located in distinct ecoregions (The Nature Conservancy 2001).

9. Diversity of Habitats or Ecological Systems Invaded in Nation:Medium/Low significance
Comments: Prefers full sun but will tolerate light shade; prefers moist to wet soil. Habitats include moist open grasslands (pastures, fields, meadows, and waste places), roadsides, cropland (e.g. alfalfa fields), stream banks and their man-made counterparts (e.g. irrigation waterways, canals, ditches), and marshes. In King county, WA, associated species include Phalaris arundinacea, Spirea, Rubus spp., and Lythrum salicaria (Cronquist et al. 1989, Rhoads and Klein 1993, Evans 1996, Klugh 1998, Washington State Noxious Weed Control Board 2003, Welsh et al. 2003, Scher 2004, King County Noxious Weed Control Program 2005, Bugwood Network et al. 2006, WVDA 2006, Whitinger 2006).

Subrank III. Trend in Distribution and Abundance: Medium/Low

10. Current Trend in Total Range within Nation:Low significance
Comments: Most known populations are currently subject to eradication or control efforts (e.g. Evan 1996, Klugh 1998, Washington State Noxious Weed Control Board 2003, King County Noxious Weed Control Program 2005), and a number of states where the plant has not yet been detected have nonetheless listed it as a noxious weed, with the goal of preventing establishment. However, the species has been used in the past for both ornamental and medicinal purposes and does still have some limited internet availability (Washington State Noxious Weed Control Board 2003), suggesting the potential for the establishment of additional populations escaped from cultivation (WVDA 2006).

11. Proportion of Potential Range Currently Occupied:High significance
Comments: The species is thought to have a wide temperature tolerance (USDA hardiness zones 3a - 9b, Whitinger 2006) and has established in both arid (UT) and less arid (WA, PA) areas of the country; therefore, it appears as if most of the U.S. would be suitable for establishment.

12. Long-distance Dispersal Potential within Nation:Moderate significance
Comments: Apparently, it is occasionally found for sale as an ornamental plant from nurseries and is also found for sale over the Internet as a medicinal herb (Cronquist et al. 1989, Washington State Noxious Weed Control Board 2003). Additional more local dispersal mechanisms include water (apparently, the pods of the plant are buoyant for a short time, Klugh 1998), farm machinery, contaminated seed, animal manure and contaminated soil (Evans 1996, Washington State Noxious Weed Control Board 2003).

13. Local Range Expansion or Change in Abundance:Insignificant
Comments: Most known populations are currently subject to eradication or control efforts (e.g. Evan 1996, Klugh 1998, Washington State Noxious Weed Control Board 2003, King County Noxious Weed Control Program 2005). Descriptions of local spread behavior have ranged from slow-spreading (Evans 1996) to spreading vigorously (50 ft. in a year) (Stokes 1964), so it appears that the potential for populations to expand rapidly once established may vary considerably with local conditions.

14. Inherent Ability to Invade Conservation Areas and Other Native Species Habitats:Medium/Low significance
Comments: Detailed descriptions of the species' behavior in Utah, Pennsylvania, and Washington (Evan 1996, Klugh 1998, Washington State Noxious Weed Control Board 2003, King County Noxious Weed Control Program 2005) suggest that it invades both disturbed (roadsides, crop fields, irrigation ditches) and less-disturbed (marshes, wet meadows) habitats where it becomes established. It appears to often access the less-disturbed habitats via the disturbed habitats, e.g. at the Morris Arboretum in Pennsylvania, where it moved from a roadside to a streamside to a wet meadow (Stokes 1964, Klugh 1998).

15. Similar Habitats Invaded Elsewhere:High/Moderate significance
Comments: Also collected from the wild in Canada (though questionably persistent there), New Zealand, Peru, Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, and Britain (Kartesz 1999, Plants for a Future 2001, Randall 2002, Lasseigne 2003). In New Zealand, it invades riverbeds and swampland (Webb et al. 1988), which do not appear to be invaded to an appreciable extent in the U.S. In Britain, it appears to invade scrub and woods (Plants for a Future 2001), which also do not appear to be invaded to an appreciable extent in the U.S.

16. Reproductive Characteristics:High/Moderate significance
Comments: Produces 1-9 seeds per pod, and each plant can produce 15,000 pods per plant or more (Washington State Noxious Weed Control Board 2003). It is thought that seeds remain viable in the soil for 5 to 10 years (Evans 1996). This species has also been noted to forms dense crowns capable of regenerating for several seasons (Klugh 1998), and to produce flowers and fruit despite mechanical control attempts (e.g. mowing, clipping, cutting, or shallow cultivation) (Evans 1996).

Subrank IV. General Management Difficulty: High/Low

17. General Management Difficulty:High/Low significance
Comments: At the site of the largest infestation (38,000 acres) in Utah, control efforts were begun in 1976. At the present time, the species is still present at this site despite considerable expenditure (Washington State Noxious Weed Control Board 2003). On the other hand, for less-entrenched infestations, good control has been achieved in as little as 2 years using the herbicides dicamba, 2,4-D, or their combination (Evans 1996).

18. Minimum Time Commitment:High/Moderate significance
Comments: Because seeds are likely viable in the soil for 5-10 years (Evans 1996), control of a well-established infestation in less than 5 years is unlikely.

19. Impacts of Management on Native Species:Medium/Low significance
Comments: The recommended herbicides are selective for broad-leaved species (Evans 1996). Impacts might therefore be low in the graminoid-dominated habitats invaded by this species, such as marshes and wet meadows. However, co-occurring forb species would likely be damaged.

20. Accessibility of Invaded Areas:Low significance
Comments: Because some infestations may result from ornamental or medicinal plantings, they may be located on private land. However, status as a federal noxious weed should expedite access and control.
Authors/Contributors
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Botanical data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs), The North Carolina Botanical Garden, and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
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  • Barneby, R.C. 1989. Fabales. In A. Cronquist, A.H. Holmgren, N.H. Holmgren, J.L. Reveal, and P.K. Holmgren (eds.). Intermountain flora: Vascular plants of the Intermountain West, U.S.A. Vol. 3, Part B. New York Botanical Garden, Bronx. 279 pp.

  • Bugwood Network, U.S. Forest Service, and USDA APHIS Pest Plant and Quarantine. 2006, 13 January last update. Goat's rue (Galega officinalis). Online. Available: http://www.invasive.org/browse/subject.cfm?sub=4535 (Accessed 2006).

  • Darbyshire, S., and C. Hanrahan. 2000. Goat's Rue, Galega officinalis, in the Ottawa District. Trail & Landscape 34(3):106-109.

  • Evans, J.O. 1996. GOATSRUE (Galega officinalis). Utah Agricultural Experiment Station Research Report 79.

  • Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.

  • Kartesz, J.T. 1996. Records considered questionably accepted reports in set of species distribution data at state and province level for vascular plant taxa of the United States, Canada, and Greenland, from unpublished data files at the North Carolina Botanical Garden, December, 1996.

  • Kartesz, J.T. 1999. A synonymized checklist and atlas with biological attributes for the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. First edition. In: Kartesz, J.T., and C.A. Meacham. Synthesis of the North American Flora, Version 1.0. North Carolina Botanical Garden, Chapel Hill, N.C.

  • King County Noxious Weed Control Program. 2005, 18 November last update. Goatsrue, Galega officinalis. Department of Natural Resources, Water and Land Resources Division. Online. Available: http://dnr.metrokc.gov/wlr/LANDS/Weeds/goat.html (Accessed 2006)

  • Klugh, K. 1998. Goatsrue, Galega officinalis, in Pennsylvania. Regulatory Horticulture 24(2): 25-28. Weed Circular No. 22, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Plant Industry.

  • Lasseigne, A. 2003. Invasive plants of the eastern United States: Galega sp. Department of Agriculture APHIS-PPQ. Noxious Weeds of the Federal Noxious Weed Act, No. 26. Online. Available: http://www.invasive.org/eastern/other/Galega.html (Accessed 2006).

  • Plants for a Future. 2001, February 2002 last update. Plants for a future database. Available: http://www.ibiblio.org/pfaf/D_search.html (Accessed 2006).

  • Randall, R.P. 2002. A global compendium of weeds. R.G. and F.J. Richardson, Melbourne. 905 pp.

  • Reddoch, J.M., and A.H. Reddoch. 2000. A third colony of Goat's Rue in the Ottawa District. Trail & Landscape 34(4): 148.

  • Rhoads, A.F., and W.M. Klein, Jr. 1993. The vascular flora of Pennsylvania: Annotated checklist and atlas. American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia, PA. 636 pp.

  • Scher, J. 2004. Federal Noxious Weed disseminules of the U.S. Center for Plant Health Science and Technology, Plant Protection and Quarantine, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, U. S. Department of Agriculture. Online. Available: http://www.lucidcentral.org/keys/v3/FNW/ (Accessed 2006).

  • Seymour, F.C. 1989. The flora of New England. A manual for the identification of all vascular plants including ferns and their allies growing without cultivation in New England. Boston Museum Science, Boston. 611 pp. + appendix.

  • Stokes, J. S. Jr. 1964. Galega officinalis: An adventure in plant naturalization. Morris Arboretum Bulletin 15. Online. Available: http://www.mgardens.org/JS-GO-MAB.html (Accessed 2006)

  • USDA, ARS, National Genetic Resources Program. 2005, 13 October last update. Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN) Online Database. National Germplasm Resources Laboratory, Beltsville, Maryland. Available: http://www.ars-grin.gov2/cgi-bin/npgs/html/index.pl (Accessed 2006).

  • USDA, NRCS. 2006. The PLANTS Database. Data compiled from various sources by Mark W. Skinner. National Plant Data Center (http://npdc.usda.gov), Baton Rouge, LA. Online. Available: http://plants.usda.gov (Accessed 2006).

  • Washington State Noxious Weed Control Board. 2003. Written findings of the State Noxious Weed Control Board. Online. Available: http://www.nwcb.wa.gov/weed_info/contents.html. (Accessed 2006).

  • Weldy, T. and D. Werier. 2005. New York Flora Atlas. [S.M. Landry, K.N. Campbell, and L.D. Mabe (original application development), Florida Center for Community Design and Research . University of South Florida ]. New York Flora Association , Albany, New York.

  • Welsh, S.L., N.D. Atwood, S. Goodrich and L.C. Higgins. (Eds.) 2003. A Utah Flora. 3rd edition. Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, U.S.A. 912 pp.

  • West Virginia Department of Agriculture (WVDA). 2006. Pest Alert: Goats' Rue. Online. Available: http://www.wvagriculture.org/images/Plant%20Industries/Fact%20Sheets/GR%20Factsheet%20WVDA.pdf (Accessed 2006).

  • Whitinger, D. 2006. Dave's Garden: PlantFiles. Online. Available: http://davesgarden.com/pf/ (Accessed 2006)

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