A Plant of Many Names

By William T. Hathaway

Goat's-rue (Tephrosia virginiana)

Goat's-rue (Tephrosia virginiana) is one of those plants that share many names according to their locality of distribution. Aside from its names (Goat's-rue, Catgut, Rabbit's-pea) listed on our picture, Devil's shoestring, Turkey-pea, and Hoary-pea are further names that will appear, depending on how many floral publications you may have scanned.

It is said that the plant was used by Indians as a fish poison and as a treatment for bodily ailments. According to various records roots are usable as an insecticide or vermifuge. A slot in the internet states that the name Catgut and Devil's shoestring are vernacular names descriptive of the plant's long, slender, woody roots.

Like all medicinal plants in the historical record, this species seems to have a never-ending share of uses.

It has been my experience to have found several sandy, woodland-edge sites where this species occurs yearly in Pittsylvania County, Virginia.

Also see this illustration in larger format.