FABACEAE (Leguminosae) - Bean or Pea Family

Trees, shrubs, or herbs

Leaves pinnate, palmate, or trifoliate

Flowers bisexual, zygomorphic, wings in front of standard

Fruit a legume, rarely a loment

Seed with food reserves in cotyledons

400 genera, 10,000 species, worldwide

This is a very large diverse family that is divided into over 30 groups

Economic importance - the Fabaceae is the second most important family after the Poaceae (Grass family). The seeds are generally large and have high nutritional value due to large amounts of protein and oil. Most of the economically important plants in this family are herbs and are grown for their grain while others are grown for forage and hay. There are also a number of species used as ornamentals in the Fabaceae. Some of the economically important plants are listed below:

Glycine - soybean (oil and protein)

Phaseolus - green, kidney and lima beans

Vigna - cowpea, broad bean

Pisum - pea

Medicago - alfalfa (hay)

Trifolium - clover (forage)

Arachis - peanuts (fruits mature underground)

Lupinus - bluebonnet

Medicinal uses - Members of the Fabaceae have had a wide range of uses but many of them are also toxic. Rodent poisons that prevent blood clotting are derived from coumarins that occur naturally in the Fabaceae. The insecticide rotenone occurs naturally in the genus Tephrosia..

Diagnostic characteristics - leaves compound, fruit a legume, corolla zygomorphic, wings in front of standard.

FLOWERING PLANT GATEWAY (Fabaceae) (Leguminosae)