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The Fabaceae or Leguminosae,International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants.
Article 18.5 states: "The following names, of long usage, are treated as validly published: ....Leguminosae (nom. alt.: Fabaceae; type: Faba Mill. Vicia L.; ... When the Papilionaceae are regarded as a family distinct from the remainder of the Leguminosae, the name Papilionaceae is conserved against Leguminosae." English pronunciations are as follows: , and .
commonly known as the legume, pea, or bean family, are a large and economically important
family In , family (from la, familia) is a of people related either by (by recognized birth) or (by marriage or other relationship). The purpose of families is to maintain the well-being of its members and of society. Ideally, families would off ...
of
flowering plant Flowering plants include multiple members of the clade Angiospermae (), commonly called angiosperms. The term "angiosperm" is derived from the Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greec ...

flowering plant
s. It includes
tree In botany, a tree is a perennial plant with an elongated Plant stem, stem, or trunk (botany), trunk, supporting branches and leaves in most species. In some usages, the definition of a tree may be narrower, including only wood plants with se ...

tree
s,
shrub A shrub (often called a bush) is a small- to medium-sized perennial A perennial plant or simply perennial is a plant Plants are predominantly photosynthetic eukaryotes of the Kingdom (biology), kingdom Plantae. Historically, the p ...

shrub
s, and
perennial A perennial plant or simply perennial is a plant Plants are predominantly photosynthetic eukaryotes of the Kingdom (biology), kingdom Plantae. Historically, the plant kingdom encompassed all living things that were not animals, and incl ...
or
annual Annual may refer to: *Annual publication, periodical publications appearing regularly once per year **Yearbook **Literary annual *Annual plant *Annual report *Annual giving *Annual, Morocco, a settlement in northeastern Morocco *Annuals (band), a ...
herbaceous plant Herbaceous plants are vascular plant Vascular plants (from Latin ''vasculum'': duct), also known as Tracheophyta (the tracheophytes , from Greek τραχεῖα ἀρτηρία ''trācheia artēria'' 'windpipe' + φυτά ''phutá'' 'plants'), ...
s, which are easily recognized by their
fruit In botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science of plant life and a branch of biology. A botanist, plant scientist or phytologist is a scientist who specialises in this field. The term "botany" comes from the ...

fruit
(
legume A legume () is a plant Plants are predominantly photosynthetic Photosynthesis is a process used by plants and other organisms to Energy transformation, convert light energy into chemical energy that, through cellular respiration, can ...

legume
) and their compound, stipulate leaves. Many legumes have characteristic flowers and fruits. The family is widely distributed, and is the third-largest
land plant The Embryophyta (), or land plants, are the most familiar group of green plant Plants are predominantly photosynthetic eukaryotes of the Kingdom (biology), kingdom Plantae. Historically, the plant kingdom encompassed all living things that w ...
family in number of species, behind only the
Orchidaceae Orchidaceae ( ), common name, commonly called the orchid family, is a diverse and widespread family (biology), family of flowering plants, with blooms that are often colourful and fragrant. Along with the Asteraceae, they are one of the two lar ...

Orchidaceae
and
Asteraceae The family In , family (from la, familia) is a of people related either by (by recognized birth) or (by marriage or other relationship). The purpose of families is to maintain the well-being of its members and of society. Ideally, fam ...

Asteraceae
, with about 765 genera and nearly 20,000 known species.Judd, W. S., Campbell, C. S. Kellogg, E. A. Stevens, P.F. Donoghue, M. J. (2002), Plant systematics: a phylogenetic approach, Sinauer Axxoc, 287-292. . The five largest genera of the family are ''
Astragalus ''Astragalus'' is a large genus of over 3,000 species of herb In general use, herbs are a widely distributed and widespread group of plants, excluding vegetables Vegetables are parts of plants that are consumed by humans or other animals ...
'' (over 3,000 species), ''
Acacia ''Acacia'', commonly known as the wattles or acacias, is a large of shrubs and trees in the subfamily of the pea family . Initially, it comprised a group of plant species native to Africa and Australasia, but it has now been limited to conta ...

Acacia
'' (over 1,000 species), ''
Indigofera ''Indigofera'' is a large genus of over 750 species of flowering plant The flowering plants, also known as Angiospermae (), or Magnoliophyta (), are the most diverse group of Embryophyte, land plants, with 64 Order(biology), orders, 416 Family ...
'' (around 700 species), ''
Crotalaria ''Crotalaria'' is a genus Genus /ˈdʒiː.nəs/ (plural genera /ˈdʒen.ər.ə/) is a taxonomic rank In biological classification In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including thei ...

Crotalaria
'' (around 700 species), and ''
Mimosa ''Mimosa'' is a genus of about 420 species of herbs and shrubs, in the Mimosoideae, mimosoid clade of the legume family Fabaceae. The generic name is derived from the Greek language, Greek word (''mimos''), an "actor" or "mime", and the feminin ...

Mimosa
'' (around 400 species), which constitute about a quarter of all legume species. The ca. 19,000 known
legume species
legume species
amount to about 7% of flowering plant species. Fabaceae is the most common family found in tropical rainforests and dry forests of the
Americas The Americas (also collectively called America) is a landmass comprising the totality of North America, North and South America. The Americas make up most of the land in Earth's Western Hemisphere and comprise the New World. Along with th ...

Americas
and
Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent A continent is any of several large landmass A landmass, or land mass, is a large region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', ...

Africa
. Recent molecular and morphological evidence supports the fact that the Fabaceae is a single
monophyletic In cladistics for a group of organisms, monophyly is the condition of being a clade—that is, a group of taxa composed only of a common ancestor (or more precisely an ancestral population) and all of its lineal descendants. Monophyletic grou ...
family.Lewis G., Schrire B., Mackinder B. and Lock M. 2005. (eds.) Legumes of the world. The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Reino Unido. 577 pages. 2005. . This conclusion has been supported not only by the degree of interrelation shown by different groups within the family compared with that found among the Leguminosae and their closest relations, but also by all the recent based on
DNA Deoxyribonucleic acid (; DNA) is a molecule File:Pentacene on Ni(111) STM.jpg, A scanning tunneling microscopy image of pentacene molecules, which consist of linear chains of five carbon rings. A molecule is an electrically neutral gro ...

DNA
sequences.Doyle, J. J., J. A. Chappill, C.D. Bailey, & T. Kajita. 2000. Towards a comprehensive phylogeny of legumes: evidence from rbcL sequences and non-molecular data. pp. 1 -20 in Advances in legume systematics, part 9, (P. S. Herendeen and A. Bruneau, eds.). Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, UK. These studies confirm that the Fabaceae are a monophyletic group that is closely related to the families
Polygalaceae The Polygalaceae or the milkwort family In human society, family (from la, familia) is a group of people related either by consanguinity (by recognized birth) or affinity (by marriage or other relationship). The purpose of families is to ...
,
Surianaceae The Surianaceae are a family of plants in the order Fabales The Fabales are an order (biology), order of flowering plants included in the Rosids, rosid group of the eudicots in the APG II system, Angiosperm Phylogeny Group II classification sy ...
and
Quillajaceae Quillajaceae is a family of flowering plants. It contains only two extant species, ''Quillaja brasiliensis'' and ''Quillaja saponaria'', and one fossil species, ''Dakotanthus cordiformis''. References

Quillajaceae, Rosid families { ...
and that they belong to the order
Fabales The Fabales are an order (biology), order of flowering plants included in the Rosids, rosid group of the eudicots in the APG II system, Angiosperm Phylogeny Group II classification system. In the APG II circumscription, this order includes the f ...
. Along with the
cereal A cereal is any Poaceae, grass cultivated (grown) for the edible components of its grain (botanically, a type of fruit called a caryopsis), composed of the endosperm, cereal germ, germ, and bran. The term may also refer to the resulting grain ...

cereal
s, some
fruit In botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science of plant life and a branch of biology. A botanist, plant scientist or phytologist is a scientist who specialises in this field. The term "botany" comes from the ...

fruit
s and tropical roots, a number of Leguminosae have been a staple human food for millennia and their use is closely related to
human evolution Human evolution is the evolution Evolution is change in the heritable Heredity, also called inheritance or biological inheritance, is the passing on of Phenotypic trait, traits from parents to their offspring; either through asexual ...

human evolution
.Burkart, A. Leguminosas. ''In:'' Dimitri, M. 1987. ''Enciclopedia Argentina de Agricultura y Jardinería''. Tomo I. Descripción de plantas cultivadas. Editorial ACME S.A.C.I., Buenos Aires. pages: 467-538. The family Fabaceae includes a number of important agricultural and food plants, including ''Glycine max'' (
soybean The soybean, soy bean, or soya bean (''Glycine max'') is a species of legume A legume () is a plant Plants are predominantly photosynthetic Photosynthesis is a process used by plants and other organisms to Energy transformation ...

soybean
), ''
Phaseolus ''Phaseolus'' (bean, wild bean) is a genus of herbaceous to woody annual and perennial vines in the family (biology), family Fabaceae containing about 70 plant species, all native to the Americas, primarily Mesoamerica. It is one of the most eco ...
'' (beans), ''Pisum sativum'' (
pea The pea is most commonly the small spherical seed A seed is an embryonic plant enclosed in a protective outer covering. The formation of the seed is part of the process of reproduction Reproduction (or procreation or breeding) is ...

pea
), ''Cicer arietinum'' (
chickpea The chickpea or chick pea (''Cicer arietinum'') is an annual Annual may refer to: *Annual publication, periodical publications appearing regularly once per year **Yearbook **Literary annual *Annual plant *Annual report *Annual giving *Annual, Mo ...

chickpea
s), ''Medicago sativa'' (
alfalfa Alfalfa () (''Medicago sativa''), also called lucerne, is a perennial A perennial plant or simply perennial is a plant Plants are predominantly photosynthetic eukaryotes of the Kingdom (biology), kingdom Plantae. Historically, the ...

alfalfa
), ''Arachis hypogaea'' (
peanut The peanut, also known as the groundnut, goober (US), pindar (US) or monkey nut (UK), and taxonomically classified as ''Arachis hypogaea'', is a legume A legume () is a plant Plants are predominantly photosynthetic Photosynth ...

peanut
), ''
Ceratonia siliqua The carob (''Ceratonia siliqua'') is a flowering A flower, sometimes known as a bloom or blossom, is the reproductive Reproduction (or procreation or breeding) is the biological process by which new individual organisms – "offspr ...

Ceratonia siliqua
'' (carob), and '' Glycyrrhiza glabra'' (
liquorice Liquorice ( UK) or licorice ( US) ( ; also ) is the common name Common may refer to: Places * Common, a townland in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland * Boston Common Boston Common (also known as the Common) is a central public park in dow ...

liquorice
). A number of species are also weedy
pests Pest or The Pest may refer to: Science and medicine * Pest (organism), an animal or plant detrimental to humans or human concerns ** Weed, a plant considered undesirable * Infectious disease, an illness resulting from an infection ** Plague (diseas ...
in different parts of the world, including: ''
Cytisus scoparius ''Cytisus scoparius'' ( syn. ''Sarothamnus scoparius''), the common broom or Scotch broom, is a perennial leguminous shrub native to western and central Europe Central Europe is the central region of Europe. Central Europe includes contiguou ...

Cytisus scoparius
'' (broom), ''
Robinia pseudoacacia ''Robinia pseudoacacia'', commonly known in its native territory as black locust, is a medium-sized hardwood deciduous In the fields of horticulture and botany, the term ''deciduous'' (; ) means "falling off at maturity" and "tending to fall ...

Robinia pseudoacacia
'' (black locust)'',
Ulex europaeus ''Ulex europaeus'', the gorse, common gorse, furze or whin, is a species In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, M ...

Ulex europaeus
'' (gorse), ''
Pueraria montana ''Pueraria montana'' is a species of plant in the botanical family Fabaceae. At least three sub-species (alternatively called varieties) are known. It is closely related to other species in the genus ''Pueraria'' (''P. edulis'' and ''Pueraria phas ...
'' (kudzu), and a number of ''
Lupinus ''Lupinus'', commonly known as lupin, lupine, or regionally bluebonnet etc., is a genus Genus /ˈdʒiː.nəs/ (plural genera /ˈdʒen.ər.ə/) is a taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of extant taxon, living and fossil organ ...

Lupinus
'' species.


Etymology

The name 'Fabaceae' comes from the defunct genus ''Faba'', now included in ''
Vicia ''Vicia'' is a genus Genus /ˈdʒiː.nəs/ (plural genera /ˈdʒen.ər.ə/) is a taxonomic rank In biological classification In biology, taxonomy () is the scientific study of naming, defining (Circumscription (taxonomy), circumsc ...

Vicia
''. The term "faba" comes from Latin, and appears to simply mean "bean". Leguminosae is an older name still considered valid, and refers to the
fruit In botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science of plant life and a branch of biology. A botanist, plant scientist or phytologist is a scientist who specialises in this field. The term "botany" comes from the ...

fruit
of these plants, which are called
legume A legume () is a plant Plants are predominantly photosynthetic Photosynthesis is a process used by plants and other organisms to Energy transformation, convert light energy into chemical energy that, through cellular respiration, can ...

legume
s.


Description

Fabaceae range in habit from giant
tree In botany, a tree is a perennial plant with an elongated Plant stem, stem, or trunk (botany), trunk, supporting branches and leaves in most species. In some usages, the definition of a tree may be narrower, including only wood plants with se ...

tree
s (like ''
Koompassia excelsa ''Koompassia excelsa'' (known as tualang in Peninsula Malaysia, tapang in Sarawak, mangaris in Sabah, and bangris in Kalimantan ) is an Rainforest#Emergent layer, emergent tropical rainforest tree species in the family Fabaceae. It is found in Ind ...
'') to small
annual Annual may refer to: *Annual publication, periodical publications appearing regularly once per year **Yearbook **Literary annual *Annual plant *Annual report *Annual giving *Annual, Morocco, a settlement in northeastern Morocco *Annuals (band), a ...
herbs In general use, herbs are a widely distributed and widespread group of plants, excluding vegetables Vegetables are parts of plants that are consumed by humans or other animals as food. The original meaning is still commonly used and is appl ...
, with the majority being herbaceous perennials. Plants have indeterminate inflorescences, which are sometimes reduced to a single flower. The flowers have a short
hypanthium In angiosperms, a hypanthium or floral cup is a structure where basal portions of the calyx, the corolla, and the stamens form a cup-shaped tube. It is sometimes called a floral tube, a term that is also used for corolla tube and calyx tube. I ...
and a single
carpel Gynoecium (; ) is most commonly used as a collective term for the parts of a flower A flower, sometimes known as a bloom or blossom Image:Cerisier du Japon Prunus serrulata.jpg, Cherry blossoms in Paris in full bloom. In botany, blossoms ...
with a short
gynophoreA gynophore is the stalk of certain flower A flower, sometimes known as a bloom or blossom, is the reproduction, reproductive structure found in flowering plants (plants of the division Magnoliophyta, also called angiosperms). The biological ...
, and after fertilization produce fruits that are legumes.


Growth habit

The Fabaceae have a wide variety of growth forms, including trees, shrubs, herbaceous plants, and even
vine A vine (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation ...

vine
s or
liana A liana is a long-stemmed, woody vine A vine (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communic ...

liana
s. The herbaceous plants can be annuals, biennials, or perennials, without basal or terminal leaf aggregations. Many Legumes have tendrils. They are upright plants,
epiphyte 200px, '' Tillandsia bourgaei'' growing on an oak tree in Mexico An epiphyte is an organism that grows on the surface of a plant and derives its moisture and nutrients from the air, rain, water (in marine environments) or from debris accumulating a ...

epiphyte
s, or vines. The latter support themselves by means of shoots that twist around a support or through cauline or foliar
tendril upA curling tendril In botany, a tendril is a specialized Plant stem, stem, leaf or Petiole (botany), petiole with a threadlike shape used by climbing plants for support and attachment, as well as cellular invasion by parasitic plants such as '' ...

tendril
s. Plants can be heliophytes,
mesophyteMesophytes are terrestrial plants Plants are mainly multicellular organisms, predominantly photosynthetic Photosynthesis is a process used by plants and other organisms to Energy transformation, convert light energy into chemical energy ...
s, or
xerophyteA xerophyte (from Greek ξηρός ''xeros'' dry, φυτόν ''phuton'' plant) is a species of plant Plants are mainly multicellular organisms, predominantly photosynthetic Photosynthesis is a process used by plants and other organisms ...

xerophyte
s.


Leaves

The leaves are usually
alternate ''AlterNative: An International Journal of Indigenous Peoples'' (formerly ''AlterNative: An International Journal of Indigenous Scholarship'') is a quarterly peer-reviewed Peer review is the evaluation of work by one or more people with simi ...
and compound. Most often they are even- or odd-
pinnate Pinnation (also called pennation) is the arrangement of feather Feathers are epidermis (zoology), epidermal growths that form a distinctive outer covering, or plumage, on dinosaurs, both Bird, avian (bird) and some non-avian (non-bird) and ...
ly compound (e.g. ''
Caragana ''Caragana'' is a genus of about 80–100 species of flowering plant The flowering plants, also known as Angiospermae (), or Magnoliophyta (), are the most diverse group of Embryophyte, land plants, with 64 Order(biology), orders, 416 Family (b ...
'' and '' Robinia'' respectively), often trifoliate (e.g. ''
Trifolium Clover or trefoil are common names for plants of the genus ''Trifolium'' (Latin, ''tres'' "three" + ''folium'' "leaf"), consisting of about 300 species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification an ...

Trifolium
'', ''
Medicago ''Medicago'' is a genus Genus (plural genera) is a taxonomic rank Taxonomy (general) is the practice and science of classification of things or concepts, including the principles that underlie such classification. The term may also refer to ...

Medicago
'') and rarely
palmate The following is a list of terms which are used to describe leaf A leaf (plural leaves) is the principal lateral appendage of the vascular plant plant stem, stem, usually borne above ground and specialized for photosynthesis. The leaves ...
ly compound (e.g. ''
Lupinus ''Lupinus'', commonly known as lupin, lupine, or regionally bluebonnet etc., is a genus Genus /ˈdʒiː.nəs/ (plural genera /ˈdʒen.ər.ə/) is a taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of extant taxon, living and fossil organ ...

Lupinus
''), in the Mimosoideae and the Caesalpinioideae commonly bipinnate (e.g. ''
Acacia ''Acacia'', commonly known as the wattles or acacias, is a large of shrubs and trees in the subfamily of the pea family . Initially, it comprised a group of plant species native to Africa and Australasia, but it has now been limited to conta ...

Acacia
'', ''
Mimosa ''Mimosa'' is a genus of about 420 species of herbs and shrubs, in the Mimosoideae, mimosoid clade of the legume family Fabaceae. The generic name is derived from the Greek language, Greek word (''mimos''), an "actor" or "mime", and the feminin ...

Mimosa
''). They always have
stipule In botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science of plant life and a branch of biology. A botanist, plant scientist or phytologist is a scientist who specialises in this field. The term "botany" comes from the Ancien ...
s, which can be leaf-like (e.g. ''
Pisum ''Pisum'' is a genus of the family Fabaceae The Fabaceae or Leguminosae,Robinia'') or be rather inconspicuous. Leaf margins are entire or, occasionally,
serrate Serration is a saw-like appearance or a row of sharp or tooth-like projections. A serrated cutting edge has many small points of contact with the material being cut. By having less contact area than a smooth blade or other edge, the applied pres ...

serrate
. Both the leaves and the leaflets often have wrinkled
pulvini 200px, Section through the pulvinus of '' Oxalis rosea'', from: Charles Darwin (1880): ''The Power of Movement in Plants">Charles_Darwin.html" ;"title="Oxalis rosea'', from: Charles Darwin">Oxalis rosea'', from: Charles Darwin (1880): ''The Power of ...

pulvini
to permit
nastic movements Nastic movements are non-directional responses to stimuli (e.g. temperature Temperature is a physical quantity that expresses hot and cold. It is the manifestation of thermal energy, present in all matter, which is the source of the oc ...
. In some species, leaflets have evolved into
tendril upA curling tendril In botany, a tendril is a specialized Plant stem, stem, leaf or Petiole (botany), petiole with a threadlike shape used by climbing plants for support and attachment, as well as cellular invasion by parasitic plants such as '' ...

tendril
s (e.g. ''
Vicia ''Vicia'' is a genus Genus /ˈdʒiː.nəs/ (plural genera /ˈdʒen.ər.ə/) is a taxonomic rank In biological classification In biology, taxonomy () is the scientific study of naming, defining (Circumscription (taxonomy), circumsc ...

Vicia
''). Many species have leaves with structures that attract
ant Ants are eusocial Eusociality (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population i ...

ant
s which protect the plant from herbivore insects (a form of mutualism).
Extrafloral nectaries Nectar is a sugar Sugar is the generic name for Sweetness, sweet-tasting, soluble carbohydrates, many of which are used in food. Table sugar, granulated sugar, or regular sugar, refers to sucrose, a disaccharide composed of glucose and fru ...
are common among the Mimosoideae and the Caesalpinioideae, and are also found in some Faboideae (e.g. ''
Vicia sativa ''Vicia sativa'', known as the common vetch, garden vetch, tare or simply vetch, is a nitrogen-fixing leguminous plant in the family Fabaceae The Fabaceae or Leguminosae,Acacia ''Acacia'', commonly known as the wattles or acacias, is a large of shrubs and trees in the subfamily of the pea family . Initially, it comprised a group of plant species native to Africa and Australasia, but it has now been limited to conta ...

Acacia
'', the modified hollow stipules are inhabited by ants and are known as domatia.


Roots

Many Fabaceae host
bacteria Bacteria (; common noun bacteria, singular bacterium) are ubiquitous, mostly free-living organisms often consisting of one Cell (biology), biological cell. They constitute a large domain (biology), domain of prokaryotic microorganisms. Typ ...

bacteria
in their roots within structures called
root nodule Root nodules are found on the root In vascular plant Vascular plants (from Latin ''vasculum'': duct), also known as Tracheophyta (the tracheophytes , from Greek τραχεῖα ἀρτηρία ''trācheia artēria'' 'windpipe' + φυτά ''p ...
s. These bacteria, known as
rhizobia '' bacteria Rhizobia are diazotrophic bacteria Bacteria (; common noun bacteria, singular bacterium) are a type of Cell (biology), biological cell. They constitute a large domain (biology), domain of prokaryotic microorganisms. Typically a ...

rhizobia
, have the ability to take
nitrogen Nitrogen is the chemical element upright=1.0, 500px, The chemical elements ordered by link=Periodic table In chemistry Chemistry is the science, scientific study of the properties and behavior of matter. It is a natural science ...

nitrogen
gas (N2) out of the air and convert it to a form of nitrogen that is usable to the host plant ( or ). This process is called
nitrogen fixation Nitrogen fixation is a chemical process by which molecular nitrogen Nitrogen is the chemical element upright=1.0, 500px, The chemical elements ordered by link=Periodic table In chemistry Chemistry is the science, scientific st ...
. The legume, acting as a host, and
rhizobia '' bacteria Rhizobia are diazotrophic bacteria Bacteria (; common noun bacteria, singular bacterium) are a type of Cell (biology), biological cell. They constitute a large domain (biology), domain of prokaryotic microorganisms. Typically a ...

rhizobia
, acting as a provider of usable nitrate, form a
symbiotic Symbiosis (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approx ...

symbiotic
relationship. Members of the
Phaseoleae The plant Plants are predominantly photosynthetic eukaryotes of the Kingdom (biology), kingdom Plantae. Historically, the plant kingdom encompassed all living things that were not animals, and included algae and fungi; however, all current d ...
genus ''
Apios ''Apios'' is a genus of s in the family, . It belongs to the subfamily . Its member species are found in North America and Asia between latitudes of 50° and 20°. The term "''Apios''" comes from the Greek word for "pear" and may refer the pear ...
'' form tubers, which can be edible.


Flowers

The
flower A flower, sometimes known as a bloom or blossom Image:Cerisier du Japon Prunus serrulata.jpg, Cherry blossoms in Paris in full bloom. In botany, blossoms are the flowers of stone fruit fruit tree, trees (genus ''Prunus'') and of some other plan ...

flower
s often have five generally fused
sepal A sepal ( or ) is a part of the flower A flower, sometimes known as a bloom or blossom Cherry blossoms in Paris in full bloom. In botany, blossoms are the flowers of stone fruit fruit tree, trees (genus ''Prunus'') and of some other p ...
s and five free
petal Petals are modified leaves A leaf (plural leaves) is the principal lateral appendage of the vascular plant plant stem, stem, usually borne above ground and specialized for photosynthesis. The leaves, stem, flower and fruit together fo ...

petal
s. They are generally
hermaphroditic In reproductive biology, a hermaphrodite () is an organism In biology, an organism (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ὀργανισμός, ''organismos'') is any individual contiguous system that embodies the Life#Biology, properties of life ...
and have a short
hypanthium In angiosperms, a hypanthium or floral cup is a structure where basal portions of the calyx, the corolla, and the stamens form a cup-shaped tube. It is sometimes called a floral tube, a term that is also used for corolla tube and calyx tube. I ...
, usually cup-shaped. There are normally ten
stamen The stamen (plural The plural (sometimes abbreviated An abbreviation (from Latin ''brevis'', meaning ''short'') is a shortened form of a word or phrase, by any method. It may consist of a group of letters, or words taken from the full ve ...
s and one elongated superior
ovary The ovary is an organ found in the female reproductive system The female reproductive system is made up of the internal and external sex organs that function in reproduction of new offspring. In humans, the female reproductive system is im ...
, with a curved
style Style is a manner of doing or presenting things and may refer to: * Architectural style An architectural style is a set of characteristics and features that make a building or other structure notable or historically identifiable. It is a sub-cla ...
. They are usually arranged in indeterminate
inflorescence An inflorescence is a group or cluster of flower A flower, sometimes known as a bloom or blossom Cherry blossoms in Paris in full bloom. In botany, blossoms are the flowers of stone fruit fruit tree, trees (genus ''Prunus'') and of some ...
s. Fabaceae are typically
entomophilous covered with pollen Entomophily or insect pollination is a form of pollination whereby pollen of plants, especially but not only of flowering plants, is distributed by insects. Flowers pollinated by insects typically advertising in biology, adve ...
plants (i.e. they are
pollinated Pollination is the transfer of pollen from a male part of a plant to a female part of a plant, later enabling fertilisation Fertilisation or fertilization (see spelling differences), also known as generative fertilisation, syngamy and im ...
by
insect Insects (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in ...

insect
s), and the flowers are usually showy to attract
pollinator A pollinator is an animal that moves pollen File:Pollen Tube.svg, Pollen Tube Diagram Pollen is a powdery substance consisting of pollen grains which are Sporophyte, microsporophytes of spermatophyta, seed plants, which produce male gametes ...

pollinator
s. In the
Caesalpinioideae Caesalpinioideae is a botanical name A botanical name is a formal scientific name In taxonomy Taxonomy (general) is the practice and science of classification of things or concepts, including the principles that underlie such classificat ...
, the flowers are often
zygomorphic Floral symmetry describes whether, and how, a flower A flower, sometimes known as a bloom or blossom, is the reproduction, reproductive structure found in flowering plants (plants of the division Magnoliophyta, also called angiosperms). T ...
, as in ''
Cercis ''Cercis'' is a genus of about 10 species in the subfamily Cercidoideae of the pea family (biology), family Fabaceae, native plant, native to warm temperateness, temperate regions. It contains small deciduous trees or large shrubs commonly kn ...
'', or nearly symmetrical with five equal petals, as in ''
Bauhinia ''Bauhinia'' is a large genus Genus /ˈdʒiː.nəs/ (plural genera /ˈdʒen.ər.ə/) is a taxonomic rank In biological classification In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, includin ...

Bauhinia
''. The upper petal is the innermost one, unlike in the
Faboideae The Faboideae are a subfamily In biological classification In biology, taxonomy () is the scientific study of naming, defining (Circumscription (taxonomy), circumscribing) and classifying groups of biological organisms based on shared c ...

Faboideae
. Some species, like some in the genus ''
Senna Senna may refer to: Individuals * Ayrton Senna (1960–1994), Brazilian F1 driver and triple World Champion * Bruno Senna (born 1983), F1 driver and nephew of Ayrton Senna * Viviane Senna (born 1958), IAS president and sister of Ayrton Senna * D ...
'', have asymmetric flowers, with one of the lower petals larger than the opposing one, and the style bent to one side. The calyx, corolla, or stamens can be showy in this group. In the Mimosoideae, the flowers are actinomorphic and arranged in globose inflorescences. The petals are small and the stamens, which can be more than just 10, have long, coloured filaments, which are the showiest part of the flower. All of the flowers in an inflorescence open at once. In the
Faboideae The Faboideae are a subfamily In biological classification In biology, taxonomy () is the scientific study of naming, defining (Circumscription (taxonomy), circumscribing) and classifying groups of biological organisms based on shared c ...

Faboideae
, the flowers are zygomorphic, and have a Papilionaceous flower, specialized structure. The upper petal, called the banner or standard, is large and envelops the rest of the petals in bud, often reflexing when the flower blooms. The two adjacent petals, the wings, surround the two bottom petals. The two bottom petals are fused together at the apex (remaining free at the base), forming a boat-like structure called the keel. The stamens are always ten in number, and their filaments can be fused in various configurations, often in a group of nine stamens plus one separate stamen. Various genes in the ''CYCLOIDEA (CYC)/DICHOTOMA (DICH)'' family are expressed in the upper (also called dorsal or adaxial) petal; in some species, such as ''Cadia (plant), Cadia'', these genes are expressed throughout the flower, producing a radially symmetrical flower.


Fruit

The ovary most typically develops into a
legume A legume () is a plant Plants are predominantly photosynthetic Photosynthesis is a process used by plants and other organisms to Energy transformation, convert light energy into chemical energy that, through cellular respiration, can ...

legume
. A legume is a Fruit#Simple fruit, simple dry fruit that usually Dehiscence (botany), dehisces (opens along a seam) on two sides. A common name for this type of fruit is a "pod", although that can also be applied to a few other fruit types. A few species have evolved Samara (fruit), samarae, loments, follicle (fruit), follicles, indehiscent legumes, achenes, drupes, and berries from the basic legume fruit.


Physiology and biochemistry

The Fabaceae are rarely cyanogenic. Where they are, the cyanogenic compounds are derived from tyrosine, phenylalanine or leucine. They frequently contain alkaloids. Proanthocyanidins can be present either as cyanidin or delphinidine or both at the same time. Flavonoids such as kaempferol, quercitin and myricetin are often present. Ellagic acid has never been found in any of the genera or species analysed. Sugars are transported within the plants in the form of sucrose. C3 carbon fixation, C3 photosynthesis has been found in a wide variety of genera. The family has also evolved a unique chemistry. Many legumes contain toxic and indigestible substances, antinutrients, which may be removed through various processing methods. Pterocarpans are a class of molecules (derivatives of isoflavonoids) found only in the Fabaceae. Forisome proteins are found in the sieve tubes of Fabaceae; uniquely they are not dependent on Adenosine triphosphate, ADT.


Evolution, phylogeny and taxonomy


Evolution

The order Fabales contains around 7.3% of eudicot species and the greatest part of this diversity is contained in just one of the four families that the order contains: Fabaceae. This clade also includes the families
Polygalaceae The Polygalaceae or the milkwort family In human society, family (from la, familia) is a group of people related either by consanguinity (by recognized birth) or affinity (by marriage or other relationship). The purpose of families is to ...
,
Surianaceae The Surianaceae are a family of plants in the order Fabales The Fabales are an order (biology), order of flowering plants included in the Rosids, rosid group of the eudicots in the APG II system, Angiosperm Phylogeny Group II classification sy ...
and
Quillajaceae Quillajaceae is a family of flowering plants. It contains only two extant species, ''Quillaja brasiliensis'' and ''Quillaja saponaria'', and one fossil species, ''Dakotanthus cordiformis''. References

Quillajaceae, Rosid families { ...
and its origins date back 94 to 89 million years, although it started its diversification 79 to 74 million years ago. In fact, the Fabaceae have diversified during the early tertiary to become a ubiquitous part of the modern earth's Biota (ecology), biota, along with many other families belonging to the flowering plants.Herendeen, P. S., W. L. Crepet, and D. L. Dilcher. 1992. The fossil history of the Leguminosae: phylogenetic and biogeographic implications. Pages 303 – 316 in Advances in Legume Systematics, part 4, the fossil record (P. S. Herendeen and D .L. Dilcher, eds). Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, UK. The Fabaceae have an abundant and diverse fossil record, especially for the Tertiary period. Fossils of flowers, fruit, leaves, wood and pollen from this period have been found in numerous locations.Crepet, W. L., and P. S. Herendeen. 1992. Papilionoid flowers from the early Eocene of south eastern North America. Pages 43–55 in Advances in Legume Systematics, part 4, the fossil record (P. S. Herendeen and D. L. Dilcher, eds.). Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, UK.Herendeen, P. S. 1992. The fossil history of Leguminosae from the Eocene of south eastern North America. Pages 85-160 in Advances in Legume Systematics, part 4, the fossil record (Herendeen, P. S., and D. L. Dilcher, eds.). Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, UK.Herendeen, P. S. 2001. The fossil record of the Leguminosae: recent advances. In Legumes Down Under: the Fourth International Legume conference, Abstracts, 34–35. Australian National University, Canberra, Australia.Herendeen, P. S., and S. Wing. 2001. Papilionoid legume fruits and leaves from the Palaeocene of north western Wyoming. Botany 2001 Abstracts, published by Botanical Society of America (http://www.botany2001.org/).Wing, S. L., F. Herrera, and C. Jaramillo. 2004. A Palaeocene flora from the Cerrajón Formation, Guajíra Peninsula, north eastern Colombia. Pages 146-147 in VII International Organization of Paleobotany Conference Abstracts (21–26 March). Museo Egidio Feruglio, Trelew, Argentina. The earliest fossils that can be definitively assigned to the Fabaceae appeared in the early Palaeocene (approximately 65 million years ago). Representatives of the 3 sub-families traditionally recognised as being members of the Fabaceae – Cesalpinioideae, Papilionoideae and Mimosoideaeas well as members of the large clades within these sub-familiessuch as the genistoideshave been found in periods later, starting between 55 and 50 million years ago. In fact, a wide variety of taxa representing the main lineages in the Fabaceae have been found in the fossil record dating from the middle to the late Eocene, suggesting that the majority of the modern Fabaceae groups were already present and that a broad diversification occurred during this period. Therefore, the Fabaceae started their diversification approximately 60 million years ago and the most important clades separated 50 million years ago.Bruneau, A., Lewis, G. P., Herendeen, P. S., Schrire, B., & Mercure, M. 2008b. Biogeographic patterns in early-diverging clades of the Leguminosae. Pp. 98-99, in Botany 2008. Botany without Borders. [Botanical Society of America, Abstracts.] The age of the main Cesalpinioideae clades have been estimated as between 56 and 34 million years and the basal group of the Mimosoideae as 44 ± 2.6 million years. The division between Mimosoideae and Faboideae is dated as occurring between 59 and 34 million years ago and the basal group of the Faboideae as 58.6 ± 0.2 million years ago. It has been possible to date the divergence of some of the groups within the Faboideae, even though diversification within each genus was relatively recent. For instance, ''
Astragalus ''Astragalus'' is a large genus of over 3,000 species of herb In general use, herbs are a widely distributed and widespread group of plants, excluding vegetables Vegetables are parts of plants that are consumed by humans or other animals ...
'' separated from the ''Oxytropis'' 16 to 12 million years ago. In addition, the separation of the aneuploidy, aneuploid species of ''Neoastragalus'' started 4 million years ago. ''Inga,'' another genus of the Papilionoideae with approximately 350 species, seems to have diverged in the last 2 million years.Wojciechowski, M. F. 2003. Reconstructing the phylogeny of legumes (Leguminosae): An early 21st century perspective. Pp. 5-35, in Klitgaard, B. B. & Bruneau, A. (eds), Advances in Legume Systematics, Part 10, Higher Level Systematics. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.Wojciechowski, Martin F., Johanna Mahn, and Bruce Jones. 2006. Fabaceae. legumes. Version 14 June 2006
The Tree of Life Web Project
http://tolweb.org/
It has been suggested, based on fossil and phylogenetic evidence, that legumes originally evolved in arid and/or semi-arid regions along the Tethys Ocean, Tethys seaway during the Palaeogene Period. However, others contend that
Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent A continent is any of several large landmass A landmass, or land mass, is a large region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', ...

Africa
(or even the
Americas The Americas (also collectively called America) is a landmass comprising the totality of North America, North and South America. The Americas make up most of the land in Earth's Western Hemisphere and comprise the New World. Along with th ...

Americas
) cannot yet be ruled out as the origin of the family. The current hypothesis about the evolution of the genes needed for nodulation is that they were recruited from other pathways after a polyploidy event. Several different pathways have been implicated as donating duplicated genes to the pathways need for nodulation. The main donors to the pathway were the genes associated with the arbuscular mycorrhiza symbiosis genes, the pollen tube formation genes and the haemoglobin genes. One of the main genes shown to be shared between the arbuscular mycorrhiza pathway and the nodulation pathway is SYMRK and it is involved in the plant-bacterial recognition. The pollen tube growth is similar to the infection thread development in that infection threads grow in a polar manner that is similar to a pollen tubes polar growth towards the ovules. Both pathways include the same type of enzymes, pectin-degrading cell wall enzymes. The enzymes needed to reduce nitrogen, nitrogenases, require a substantial input of ATP but at the same time are sensitive to free oxygen. To meet the requirements of this paradoxical situation, the plants express a type of haemoglobin called leghaemoglobin that is believed to be recruited after a duplication event. These three genetic pathways are believed to be part of a gene duplication event then recruited to work in nodulation.


Phylogeny and taxonomy


Phylogeny

The Phylogenetics, phylogeny of the legumes has been the object of many studies by research groups from around the world. These studies have used morphology,
DNA Deoxyribonucleic acid (; DNA) is a molecule File:Pentacene on Ni(111) STM.jpg, A scanning tunneling microscopy image of pentacene molecules, which consist of linear chains of five carbon rings. A molecule is an electrically neutral gro ...

DNA
data (the chloroplast intron ''trnL'', the chloroplast genes ''rbcL'' and ''matK'', or the ribosomal spacers ''ITS'') and Cladistics, cladistic analysis in order to investigate the relationships between the family's different lineages. Fabaceae is consistently recovered as Monophyly, monophyletic. The studies further confirmed that the traditional subfamilies Mimosoideae and Papilionoideae were each Monophyly, monophyletic but both were nested within the paraphyletic subfamily Caesalpinioideae. All the different approaches yielded similar results regarding the relationships between the family's main clades. Following extensive discussion in the legume phylogenetics community, the Legume Phylogeny Working Group reclassified Fabaceae into six subfamilies, which necessitated the segregation of four new subfamilies from Caesalpinioideae and merging Caesapinioideae ''sensu stricto'' with the former subfamily Mimosoideae. The exact branching order of the different subfamilies is still unresolved.


Taxonomy

The Fabaceae are placed in the order
Fabales The Fabales are an order (biology), order of flowering plants included in the Rosids, rosid group of the eudicots in the APG II system, Angiosperm Phylogeny Group II classification system. In the APG II circumscription, this order includes the f ...
according to most taxonomic systems, including the APG III system. The family now includes six subfamilies: *Cercidoideae: 12 genera and ~335 species. Mainly tropical. ''
Bauhinia ''Bauhinia'' is a large genus Genus /ˈdʒiː.nəs/ (plural genera /ˈdʒen.ər.ə/) is a taxonomic rank In biological classification In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, includin ...

Bauhinia
'', ''
Cercis ''Cercis'' is a genus of about 10 species in the subfamily Cercidoideae of the pea family (biology), family Fabaceae, native plant, native to warm temperateness, temperate regions. It contains small deciduous trees or large shrubs commonly kn ...
''. *Detarioideae: 84 genera and ~760 species. Mainly tropical. ''Amherstia'', ''Detarium'', ''Tamarindus''. *Duparquetioideae: 1 genus and 1 species. West and Central Africa. ''Duparquetia''. *Dialioideae: 17 genera and ~85 species. Widespread throughout the tropics. ''Dialium''. *
Caesalpinioideae Caesalpinioideae is a botanical name A botanical name is a formal scientific name In taxonomy Taxonomy (general) is the practice and science of classification of things or concepts, including the principles that underlie such classificat ...
: 148 genera and ~4400 species. Pantropical. ''Caesalpinia'', ''
Senna Senna may refer to: Individuals * Ayrton Senna (1960–1994), Brazilian F1 driver and triple World Champion * Bruno Senna (born 1983), F1 driver and nephew of Ayrton Senna * Viviane Senna (born 1958), IAS president and sister of Ayrton Senna * D ...
'', ''
Mimosa ''Mimosa'' is a genus of about 420 species of herbs and shrubs, in the Mimosoideae, mimosoid clade of the legume family Fabaceae. The generic name is derived from the Greek language, Greek word (''mimos''), an "actor" or "mime", and the feminin ...

Mimosa
'', ''
Acacia ''Acacia'', commonly known as the wattles or acacias, is a large of shrubs and trees in the subfamily of the pea family . Initially, it comprised a group of plant species native to Africa and Australasia, but it has now been limited to conta ...

Acacia
''. Includes the former subfamily Mimosoideae (80 genera and ~3200 species; mostly tropical and warm temperate Asia and America). *
Faboideae The Faboideae are a subfamily In biological classification In biology, taxonomy () is the scientific study of naming, defining (Circumscription (taxonomy), circumscribing) and classifying groups of biological organisms based on shared c ...

Faboideae
(Papilionoideae): 503 genera and ~14,000 species. Cosmopolitan distribution, Cosmopolitan. ''
Astragalus ''Astragalus'' is a large genus of over 3,000 species of herb In general use, herbs are a widely distributed and widespread group of plants, excluding vegetables Vegetables are parts of plants that are consumed by humans or other animals ...
'', ''
Lupinus ''Lupinus'', commonly known as lupin, lupine, or regionally bluebonnet etc., is a genus Genus /ˈdʒiː.nəs/ (plural genera /ˈdʒen.ər.ə/) is a taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of extant taxon, living and fossil organ ...

Lupinus
'', ''
Pisum ''Pisum'' is a genus of the family Fabaceae The Fabaceae or Leguminosae, The trees are often found in tropical regions, while the herbaceous plants and shrubs are predominant outside the tropics.


Biological nitrogen fixation

Nitrogen fixation, Biological nitrogen fixation (BNF, performed by the organisms called diazotrophs) is a very old process that probably originated in the Archean eon when the primitive atmosphere lacked oxygen. It is only carried out by Euryarchaeota and just 6 of the more than 50 Phylum, phyla of
bacteria Bacteria (; common noun bacteria, singular bacterium) are ubiquitous, mostly free-living organisms often consisting of one Cell (biology), biological cell. They constitute a large domain (biology), domain of prokaryotic microorganisms. Typ ...

bacteria
. Some of these lineages co-evolved together with the
flowering plant Flowering plants include multiple members of the clade Angiospermae (), commonly called angiosperms. The term "angiosperm" is derived from the Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greec ...

flowering plant
s establishing the molecular basis of a mutually beneficial
symbiotic Symbiosis (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approx ...

symbiotic
relationship. BNF is carried out in nodules that are mainly located in the root cortex, although they are occasionally located in the stem as in ''Sesbania rostrata''. The spermatophytes that co-evolved with actinorhizal diazotrophs (''Frankia'') or with
rhizobia '' bacteria Rhizobia are diazotrophic bacteria Bacteria (; common noun bacteria, singular bacterium) are a type of Cell (biology), biological cell. They constitute a large domain (biology), domain of prokaryotic microorganisms. Typically a ...

rhizobia
to establish their symbiotic relationship belong to 11 families contained within the Rosidae clade (as established by the gene molecular phylogeny of ''rbcL'', a gene coding for part of the RuBisCO enzyme in the chloroplast). This grouping indicates that the predisposition for forming nodules probably only arose once in flowering plants and that it can be considered as an ancestral characteristic that has been conserved or lost in certain lineages. However, such a wide distribution of families and genera within this lineage indicates that nodulation had multiple origins. Of the 10 families within the Rosidae, 8 have nodules formed by actinomyces (Betulaceae, Casuarinaceae, Coriariaceae, Datiscaceae, Elaeagnaceae, Myricaceae, Rhamnaceae and Rosaceae), and the two remaining families, Ulmaceae and Fabaceae have nodules formed by rhizobia.Sprent, J. I. 2001. Nodulation in legumes. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, UK. The rhizobia and their hosts must be able to recognize each other for nodule formation to commence. Rhizobia are specific to particular host species although a rhizobia species may often infect more than one host species. This means that one plant species may be infected by more than one species of bacteria. For example, nodules in ''Acacia senegal'' can contain seven species of rhizobia belonging to three different genera. The most distinctive characteristics that allow rhizobia to be distinguished apart are the rapidity of their growth and the type of root nodule that they form with their host. Root nodules can be classified as being either indeterminate, cylindrical and often branched, and determinate, spherical with prominent lenticels. Indeterminate nodules are characteristic of legumes from temperate climates, while determinate nodules are commonly found in species from tropical or subtropical climates. Nodule formation is common throughout the Fabaceae. It is found in the majority of its members that only form an association with rhizobia, which in turn form an exclusive symbiosis with the Fabaceae (with the exception of ''Parasponia'', the only genus of the 18 Ulmaceae genera that is capable of forming nodules). Nodule formation is present in all the Fabaceae sub-families, although it is less common in the Caesalpinioideae. All types of nodule formation are present in the subfamily Papilionoideae: indeterminate (with the meristem retained), determinate (without meristem) and the type included in ''Aeschynomene''. The latter two are thought to be the most modern and specialised type of nodule as they are only present in some lines of the subfamily Papilionoideae. Even though nodule formation is common in the two Monophyly, monophyletic subfamilies Papilionoideae and Mimosoideae they also contain species that do not form nodules. The presence or absence of nodule-forming species within the three sub-families indicates that nodule formation has arisen several times during the evolution of the Fabaceae and that this ability has been lost in some lineages. For example, within the genus ''Acacia'', a member of the Mimosoideae, ''A. pentagona'' does not form nodules, while other species of the same genus readily form nodules, as is the case for ''Acacia senegal'', which forms both rapidly and slow growing rhizobial nodules.


Chemical ecology

A large number of species within many genera of leguminous plants, e.g. ''
Astragalus ''Astragalus'' is a large genus of over 3,000 species of herb In general use, herbs are a widely distributed and widespread group of plants, excluding vegetables Vegetables are parts of plants that are consumed by humans or other animals ...
'', ''Coronilla'', ''Hippocrepis'', ''
Indigofera ''Indigofera'' is a large genus of over 750 species of flowering plant The flowering plants, also known as Angiospermae (), or Magnoliophyta (), are the most diverse group of Embryophyte, land plants, with 64 Order(biology), orders, 416 Family ...
'', ''Lotus (genus), Lotus'', ''Securigera'' and ''Scorpiurus (plant), Scorpiurus'', produce chemicals that derive from the compound 3-nitropropanoic acid (3-NPA, beta-nitropropionic acid). The free acid 3-NPA is an irreversible inhibitor of mitochondrial Cellular respiration, respiration, and thus the compound inhibits the tricarboxylic acid cycle. This inhibition caused by 3-NPA is especially toxic to nerve cells and represents a very general toxic mechanism suggesting a profound ecological importance due to the big number of species producing this compound and its derivatives. A second and closely related class of secondary metabolites that occur in many species of leguminous plants is defined by isoxazolin-5-one derivatives. These compounds occur in particular together with 3-NPA and related derivatives at the same time in the same species, as found in ''Astragalus canadensis'' and ''Astragalus collinus''. 3-NPA and isoxazlin-5-one derivatives also occur in many species of leaf beetles (see defense in insects).


Economic and cultural importance

Legumes are economically and culturally important plants due to their extraordinary diversity and abundance, the wide variety of edible vegetables they represent and due to the variety of uses they can be put to: in horticulture and agriculture, as a food, for the compounds they contain that have medicinal uses and for the oil and fats they contain that have a variety of uses.Allen, O. N., & E. K. Allen. 1981. The Leguminosae, A Source Book of Characteristics, Uses, and Nodulation. The University of Wisconsin Press, Madison, USA.Duke, J. A. 1992. Handbook of Legumes of Economic Importance. Plenum Press, New York, USA.Wojciechowski, M.F. 2006
Agriculturally & Economically Important Legumes.
Accessed 15 November 2008.


Food and forage

The bean#History, history of legumes is tied in closely with that of human civilization, appearing early in Asia, the
Americas The Americas (also collectively called America) is a landmass comprising the totality of North America, North and South America. The Americas make up most of the land in Earth's Western Hemisphere and comprise the New World. Along with th ...

Americas
(the common bean, several varieties) and Europe (broad beans) by 6,000 Anno Domini, BCE, where they became a staple, essential as a source of protein. Their ability to nitrogen fixation, fix atmospheric nitrogen reduces fertilizer costs for farmers and gardeners who grow legumes, and means that legumes can be used in a crop rotation to replenish soil that has been depleted of
nitrogen Nitrogen is the chemical element upright=1.0, 500px, The chemical elements ordered by link=Periodic table In chemistry Chemistry is the science, scientific study of the properties and behavior of matter. It is a natural science ...

nitrogen
. Legume seeds and foliage have a comparatively higher protein content than non-legume materials, due to the additional nitrogen that legumes receive through the process. Legumes are commonly used as natural fertilizers. Some legume species perform hydraulic redistribution, hydraulic lift, which makes them ideal for intercropping. Farmed legumes can belong to numerous classes, including Fodder, forage, cereal, grain, blooms, pharmaceutical/industrial, fallow/green manure and timber species, with most commercially farmed species filling two or more roles simultaneously. There are of two broad types of forage legumes. Some, like
alfalfa Alfalfa () (''Medicago sativa''), also called lucerne, is a perennial A perennial plant or simply perennial is a plant Plants are predominantly photosynthetic eukaryotes of the Kingdom (biology), kingdom Plantae. Historically, the ...

alfalfa
, clover, vetch, and ''Arachis'', are sown in pasture and grazed by livestock. Other forage legumes such as ''Leucaena'' or ''Albizia'' are woody shrub or tree species that are either broken down by livestock or regularly cut by humans to provide fodder. Grain legumes are cultivated for their seeds, and are also called pulse (legume), pulses. The seeds are used for human and animal consumption or for the production of Vegetable fats and oils, oils for industrial uses. Grain legumes include both herbaceous plants like beans, lentils, lupins,
pea The pea is most commonly the small spherical seed A seed is an embryonic plant enclosed in a protective outer covering. The formation of the seed is part of the process of reproduction Reproduction (or procreation or breeding) is ...

pea
s and
peanut The peanut, also known as the groundnut, goober (US), pindar (US) or monkey nut (UK), and taxonomically classified as ''Arachis hypogaea'', is a legume A legume () is a plant Plants are predominantly photosynthetic Photosynth ...

peanut
s. and trees such as carob, mesquite and tamarind. ''Lathyrus tuberosus'', once extensively cultivated in Europe, forms tubers used for human consumption. Bloom legume species include species such as lupin, which are farmed commercially for their blooms, and thus are popular in gardens worldwide. ''Laburnum'', '' Robinia'', ''Gleditsia'' (honey locust), ''
Acacia ''Acacia'', commonly known as the wattles or acacias, is a large of shrubs and trees in the subfamily of the pea family . Initially, it comprised a group of plant species native to Africa and Australasia, but it has now been limited to conta ...

Acacia
'', ''
Mimosa ''Mimosa'' is a genus of about 420 species of herbs and shrubs, in the Mimosoideae, mimosoid clade of the legume family Fabaceae. The generic name is derived from the Greek language, Greek word (''mimos''), an "actor" or "mime", and the feminin ...

Mimosa
'', and ''Delonix'' are Ornamental plant, ornamental
tree In botany, a tree is a perennial plant with an elongated Plant stem, stem, or trunk (botany), trunk, supporting branches and leaves in most species. In some usages, the definition of a tree may be narrower, including only wood plants with se ...

tree
s and
shrub A shrub (often called a bush) is a small- to medium-sized perennial A perennial plant or simply perennial is a plant Plants are predominantly photosynthetic eukaryotes of the Kingdom (biology), kingdom Plantae. Historically, the p ...

shrub
s. Industrial farmed legumes include ''
Indigofera ''Indigofera'' is a large genus of over 750 species of flowering plant The flowering plants, also known as Angiospermae (), or Magnoliophyta (), are the most diverse group of Embryophyte, land plants, with 64 Order(biology), orders, 416 Family ...
'', cultivated for the production of indigo, ''
Acacia ''Acacia'', commonly known as the wattles or acacias, is a large of shrubs and trees in the subfamily of the pea family . Initially, it comprised a group of plant species native to Africa and Australasia, but it has now been limited to conta ...

Acacia
'', for gum arabic, and ''Derris'', for the insecticide action of rotenone, a compound it produces. Fallow or green manure legume species are cultivated to be tilled back into the soil to exploit the high nitrogen levels found in most legumes. Numerous legumes are farmed for this purpose, including ''Leucaena'', ''Cyamopsis'' and ''Sesbania''. Various legume species are farmed for timber production worldwide, including numerous ''
Acacia ''Acacia'', commonly known as the wattles or acacias, is a large of shrubs and trees in the subfamily of the pea family . Initially, it comprised a group of plant species native to Africa and Australasia, but it has now been limited to conta ...

Acacia
'' species, ''Dalbergia'' species, and ''Castanospermum australe''. Melliferous plants offer nectar to bees and other insects to encourage them to carry pollen from the
flower A flower, sometimes known as a bloom or blossom Image:Cerisier du Japon Prunus serrulata.jpg, Cherry blossoms in Paris in full bloom. In botany, blossoms are the flowers of stone fruit fruit tree, trees (genus ''Prunus'') and of some other plan ...

flower
s of one plant to others thereby ensuring pollination. Some legume species such as
alfalfa Alfalfa () (''Medicago sativa''), also called lucerne, is a perennial A perennial plant or simply perennial is a plant Plants are predominantly photosynthetic eukaryotes of the Kingdom (biology), kingdom Plantae. Historically, the ...

alfalfa
, Trifolium repens, white clover, Melilotus, sweet clover and various Prosopis species are good nectar providers. Many plants in the family Fabaceae are an important source of pollen for the bumblebee species ''Bombus hortorum''. This bee species is especially fond of one species in particular; ''Trifolium pratense'', also known as red clover, is a popular food source in the diet of ''Bombus hortorum''.


Industrial uses


Natural gums

Natural gums are vegetable exudates that are released as the result of damage to the plant such as that resulting from the attack of an insect or a natural or artificial cut. These exudates contain heterogeneous polysaccharides formed of different sugars and usually containing uronic acids. They form viscous colloidal solutions. There are different species that produce gums. The most important of these species belong to the Fabaceae. They are widely used in the pharmaceutical, cosmetic, food, and textile sectors. They also have interesting therapeutic properties; for example gum arabic is antitussive and anti-inflammatory. The most well known gums are tragacanth (''Astragalus gummifer''), gum arabic (''Acacia senegal'') and guar gum (''Cyamopsis tetragonoloba'').Kuklinski, C. 2000. Farmacognosia : estudio de las drogas y sustancias medicamentosas de origen natural. Ediciones Omega, Barcelona.


Dyes

Several species of Fabaceae are used to produce dyes. The heartwood of logwood, ''Haematoxylon campechianum'', is used to produce red and purple dyes. The Histology, histological stain called haematoxylin is produced from this species. The wood of the Brazilwood tree (''Caesalpinia echinata'') is also used to produce a red or purple dye. The Madras thorn (''Pithecellobium dulce'') has reddish fruit that are used to produce a yellow dye.Marquez, A. C., Lara, O.F., Esquivel, R. B. & Mata, E. R. 1999. Composición, usos y actividad biológica: Plantas medicinales de México II. UNAM. First edition. México, D.F. Indigo dye is extracted from the indigo plant ''Indigofera tinctoria'' that is native to Asia. In Central and South America dyes are produced from two species in the same genus: indigo and Maya blue from ''Indigofera suffruticosa'' and Natal indigo from ''Indigofera arrecta''. Yellow dyes are extracted from ''Butea monosperma'', commonly called flame of the forest and from dyer's greenweed, (''Genista tinctoria'').


Ornamentals

Legumes have been used as ornamental plants throughout the world for many centuries. Their vast diversity of heights, shapes, foliage and flower colour means that this family is commonly used in the design and planting of everything from small gardens to large parks. The following is a list of the main ornamental legume species, listed by subfamily. * Subfamily Caesalpinioideae: ''Bauhinia forficata'', ''Caesalpinia gilliesii'', ''Caesalpinia spinosa'', ''
Ceratonia siliqua The carob (''Ceratonia siliqua'') is a flowering A flower, sometimes known as a bloom or blossom, is the reproductive Reproduction (or procreation or breeding) is the biological process by which new individual organisms – "offspr ...

Ceratonia siliqua
'', ''Cercis siliquastrum'', ''Gleditsia triacanthos'', ''Gymnocladus dioica'', ''Parkinsonia aculeata'', ''Senna multiglandulosa''.Macaya J. 1999
Leguminosas arbóreas y arbustivas cultivadas en Chile.
Chloris Chilensis Año 2. Nº1.
* Subfamily Mimosoideae: ''Acacia caven'', ''Acacia cultriformis'', ''Acacia dealbata'', ''Acacia karroo'', ''Acacia longifolia'', ''Acacia melanoxylon'', ''Acacia paradoxa'', ''Acacia retinodes'', ''Acacia saligna'', ''Acacia verticillata'', ''Acacia visco'', ''Albizzia julibrissin'', ''Calliandra tweediei'', ''Paraserianthes lophantha'', ''Prosopis chilensis''. * Subfamily Faboideae: ''Clianthus puniceus'', ''
Cytisus scoparius ''Cytisus scoparius'' ( syn. ''Sarothamnus scoparius''), the common broom or Scotch broom, is a perennial leguminous shrub native to western and central Europe Central Europe is the central region of Europe. Central Europe includes contiguou ...

Cytisus scoparius
'', ''Erythrina crista-galli'', ''Erythrina falcata'','' Laburnum anagyroides'', ''Lotus peliorhynchus'', ''Lupinus arboreus'', ''Lupinus polyphyllus'', ''Otholobium glandulosum'','' Retama monosperma'', ''Robinia hispida'', ''Robinia luxurians'', ''
Robinia pseudoacacia ''Robinia pseudoacacia'', commonly known in its native territory as black locust, is a medium-sized hardwood deciduous In the fields of horticulture and botany, the term ''deciduous'' (; ) means "falling off at maturity" and "tending to fall ...

Robinia pseudoacacia
'', ''Styphnolobium japonicum, Sophora japonica'', ''Sophora macnabiana'','' Sophora macrocarpa'', ''Spartium junceum'', ''Teline monspessulana'', ''Tipuana tipu'', ''Wisteria sinensis''.


Emblematic Fabaceae

* The Cockspur Coral Tree (''Erythrina crista-galli''), is the National Flower of Argentina and Uruguay.Ministerio de Educación de la Nación. Subsecretaría de Coordinación Administrativa
Día de la Flor Nacional "El Ceibo"
Efemérides Culturales Argentinas. Consulted 3 March 2010.
* The Elephant ear tree (''Enterolobium cyclocarpum'') is the national tree of Costa Rica, by Executive Order of 31 August 1959.Gilbert Vargas Ulate. 1997. Geografía turística de Costa Rica. EUNED, 180 p. , 9789977649009. * The Brazilwood tree (''Caesalpinia echinata'') has been the national tree of Brazil since 1978."Lei Nº 6.607, de 7 de dezembro de 1978. O Presidente da República, faço saber que o Congresso Nacional decreta e eu sanciono a seguinte Lei: Art. 1º- É declarada Árvore Nacional a leguminosa denominada Pau-Brasil (''Caesalpinia echinata'', Lam), cuja festa será comemorada, anualmente, quando o Ministério da Educação e Cultura promoverá campanha elucidativa sobre a relevância daquela espécie vegetal na História do Brasil." * The Golden wattle ''Acacia pycnantha'' is Australia’s national flower. * The Hong Kong Orchid tree ''Bauhinia blakeana'' is the national flower of Hong Kong.


Image gallery

File:MG 7005.jpg, ''Acacia baileyana'' (Wattle) File:Starr 050419-0368 Alysicarpus vaginalis.jpg, Loments of ''Alysicarpus vaginalis'' File:CalliandraEmarginata.JPG, ''Calliandra emarginata'' File:Cassia_leptophylla_tree.jpg, ''Cassia leptophylla'' tree File:Desmodium gangeticum W2 IMG 2776.jpg, ''Desmodium gangeticum'' File:Sickle Bush (Dichrostachys cinerea) in Hyderabad, AP W2 IMG 9903.jpg, ''Dichrostachys cinerea'' Sickle Bush File:Royal_Ponciana.jpg, ''Delonix regia'' tree File:Indigofera-gerardiana.JPG, ''Indigofera gerardiana'' File:Lathyrus odoratus 5 ies.jpg, Tendrils of ''Lathyrus odoratus'' (Sweet pea) File:Arboreus infl.jpg, Inflorescence of ''Lupinus arboreus'' (Yellow bush lupin) File:Blauwschokker Kapucijner rijserwt Pisum sativum.jpg, ''Pisum sativum'' (Peas); note the leaf-like stipules File:Smithia conferta W IMG 2191.jpg, ''Smithia conferta'' File:Trifolium repens in Kullu distt W IMG 6655.jpg, ''Trifolium repens'' in Kullu District of Himachal Pradesh, India. File:Vicia cassubica W.jpg, ''Kashubian vetch'' – Kashubia File:Zornia gibbosa W IMG 1666.jpg, ''Zornia gibbosa'' File:Cytisus scoparius2.jpg, ''
Cytisus scoparius ''Cytisus scoparius'' ( syn. ''Sarothamnus scoparius''), the common broom or Scotch broom, is a perennial leguminous shrub native to western and central Europe Central Europe is the central region of Europe. Central Europe includes contiguou ...

Cytisus scoparius
'' (Scotch broom) File:Senna_pendula6.jpg, ''Senna pendula'' (Easter cassia) File:Fabaceae Stipulate Lotus Hosackia stipularis.jpg, ''Hosackia stipularis'' (Stipulate Lotus) File:Fabaceae lupinus nanus sky lupine.jpg, ''Lupinus manus'' (Sky Lupine) File:Starr_071024-0313_Vigna_caracalla.jpg, ''Vigna caracalla'' (snail vine) flowers File:Fabaceae Arroyo lupine succulent lupine lupinus succulentus.jpg, ''Lupinus succulentus'' (Arroyo Lupine Succulent) File:Fabaceae harlequin lupine lupinus stiversii.jpg, ''Lupinus stiversii'' (Harlequin Lupine) File:Virgilia_tree_Keurboom_-_Cape_Town_2.JPG, ''Virgilia oroboides'' (Cape lilac) mauve flowers


References


External links


Fabaceae
at th


LegumeWeb Database
at th
''International Legume Database & Information Service (ILDIS)''
{{Authority control Fabaceae, Nitrogen cycle Extant Paleocene first appearances Rosid families Soil improvers