Leguminosae: Origin and Meaning of the Family Name

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A large and very economically important flowering plant family is Leguminosae or sometimes known as Fabaceae. Although Leguminosae is an older name it is still considered valid but the new name is Fabaceae and this comes from the genus Faba and the term Faba is Latin and means bean. The group is the third largest plant family in the world with 630 genera and 18,860 species.

Leguminosae has a very broad range of plants that include trees, shrubs and plant perennials or annuals these plants are easily recognized by their stipulated leaves, fruit and their compound. The principal unifying feature of the family is the fruit, a pod, technically known as a Legume. The Legume is modified in many ways to facilitate dispersal by animals, wind and water. Leguminosae leaves are alternate and most often they are even or odd pinnately compound, sometimes they are trifoliate and they are rarely palmately. The flowers often have five fused sepals and five free petals, the flowers are generally hermaphrodite and have a short hypanthium, usually cup shaped. Ten stamens and one elongated superior ovary are normal. Most typically the ovary develops in to a simple dry fruit that opens along the seam on both sides.

The Leguminosae family contains approximately 630 genera making it the third largest plant family in the world. The largest general within the Leguminosae family is the Astragalus with over 2,000 species. The genus is native to the temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere. Herbs and small shrubs are the main components of the Astragalus genus. Acacia is the second largest genus within the Leguminosae family, the Acacia family main...

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