Galega officinalis

Name and classification

Galega officinalis L.
Family Fabaceae, Subfamily Faboideae

Common names

goatsrue

Disseminule

seed

Description

Fruit a dehiscent legume with 2–10 seeds. Seeds oblong to reniform, umbo absent, 3–4.5 mm long, 1–2 mm wide, 1.2–1.5 mm thick, with an oblique furrow on each face extending from hilar area. Cross sectional outline elliptic to oblong. Testa smooth, dull to faintly glossy, green, yellow to reddish-brown. Pleurogram absent. Hilum marginal, +/– recessed, round, with a hilar groove (faboid split). Lens a mound. Embryo bent, cotyledons ca. twice as long as radicle; endosperm present.

Identification considerations

Seed distinctive. Resembles alfalfa (Medicago sativa) but is much larger.

Distribution

most of Europe, Western Asia, Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, New Zealand, and United States

native to much of Europe, Turkey, Pakistan, Algeria, and Morocco

Habitat

adapted to acid soil; wet, marshy areas, open meadows; a weed of cropland, pastures, roadsides, waterways

General information

Galega officinalis is a perennial herb, 0.4–1.5 m tall. It was introduced to Utah as a possible forage plant, but was unsuccessful and has since infested many acres there. The stems and leaves contain a poisonous alkaloid, galegin, that makes it unpalatable to livestock, and toxic in large quantities. Because of this, it can reduce forage area. Propagation is by seeds, which are spread mainly by water.

seeds

seeds

ventral view of seed showing the lens which is the dark mound below the hilum

ventral view of seed showing the lens which is the dark mound below the hilum

A, seed; B, longitudinal section of seed showing embryo; C, transection of seed; drawing by Lynda E. Chandler

A, seed; B, longitudinal section of seed showing embryo; C, transection of seed; drawing by Lynda E. Chandler

hilum of seed

hilum of seed

legumes

legumes

legume, detail

legume, detail