The Temperate Database is in the process of being updated, with new records being added and old ones being checked and brought up to date where necessary. This record has not yet been checked and updated.
Common Name: Goat's Rue
Galega officinalis is a Perennial up to 1.20 metres tall.
It has medicinal and miscellaneous uses.
S. Europe to W. Asia. Naturalized in S. Britain.
Scrub, woods, marshy fields and roadsides[
Succeeds in most soils but repays generous treatment[
]. Prefers full sun and a deep moist soil[
] but it also succeeds in light shade[
]. Grows well even in poor soils[
]. Plants are very tolerant of neglect and can be grown in quite coarse grass, which can be cut annually in the autumn[
A long-lived plant[
], it can be invasive in good growing conditions[
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[
Goat's rue was once important in the treatment of plague, fevers and infectious diseases[
]. 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%[
]) and for its positive effect on the digestive system[
]. The plant contains galegine, an alkaloid that strongly reduces blood sugar levels which make it useful in the treatment of diabetes[
The leaves and flowering tops are diaphoretic, diuretic, galactogogue and hypoglycaemic[
]. It has also been used in the treatment of fevers[
]. 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[
]. The plant is harvested as it is just coming into flower and is dried for later use[
]. Some caution is advised, see notes above on toxicity.
A fast-growing plant, it makes a good green manure crop, enriching the soil with organic matter and also fixing atmospheric nitrogen[
The plant is used cosmetically in hand and foot bathes[
Seed - pre-soak for 12 hours in warm water and then sow the seed in spring or autumn in a cold frame[
]. 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[
]. 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.