Pea (Family Fabaceae)

 

Fabaceae or Leguminosae is a large and economically important

family of flowering plants, which is commonly known as the Legume

Family, Pea Family, Bean Family or Pulse Family. Leguminosae is

an older name still considered valid, and refers to the typical fruit of

these plants, which are called legumes. Fabaceae is the third largest

family of flowering plants, behind Orchidaceae and Asteraceae,

with 730 genera and over 19,400 species, according to the Royal

Botanical Gardens. The largest genera are Astragalus with more

than 2,000 species, Acacia with more than 900 species, and Indigo-

fera with around 700 species. Other large genera include Crotalaria

with 600 species and Mimosa with 500 species.

 

The species of this family are found throughout the world, growing

in many different environments and climates. Ranging in size from

some of the smallest plants of deserts and arctic/alpine regions to

the tallest of rain forest trees, legumes are a conspicuous, and often

dominant, component of most of the vegetation types distributed

throughout temperate and tropical regions of the world. Legumes

are particularly diverse in tropical forests and temperate shrublands

with a seasonally dry or arid climate.

 

A number are important agricultural plants, including: Glycine max
(soybean), Phaseolus (beans), Pisum sativum (pea), Cicer arietinum
(chickpeas), Medicago sativa (alfalfa), Arachis hypogaea (peanut),
Ceratonia siliqua (carob), and Glycyrrhiza glabra (licorice), which

are among the best known members of Fabaceae. A number of spe-

cies are also weedy pests in different parts of the world, including:

Cytisus scoparius (broom) and Pueraria lobata (kudzu), and a num-

ber of Lupinus species.

 

 

Back to Inventory of Herb/Forb Families and Species

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