Genera : 150 - 180

Species: 2,200-3,000

 To Genus Directories:

To Dendrology Genus Directories:


Distribution: Subtropical and tropical with a few temperate species.

Economic Uses: As timber and dyes, and as landscaping trees.

Defining Features of Interest: Here is treated as separate family and not as a subfamily of the Fabaceae ( Leguminosae) along with the Mimosaceae, as it is sometimes found. As with the other legumes, the family retains the feature of nitrogen fixing bacteria associated with the root nodules of some species.

Fossil Evidence:Fossil pollen from the Upper Cretaceous.

Defining Morphology

Floral Features : Actinomorphic or zygomorphic and perfect. Large or small flowers in cymes, racemes and spikes. Perigynous (sometimes hypogynous). When zygomorphic, the uppermost petal as a banner or standard and the lower two petals as wings.

Fruit and Seed Features : Fruit a legume, both dry and fleshy, or loment. Seed has hard coat and may be few or many, endosperm minimal or lacking. Placentation is marginal.

Vegetative Features : Habit as herbs, shrubs and trees or rarely as lianas. Leaves pinnately compound to bipinnate ( not often simple), and alternate. Some are modified into tendrils. Stipules are present.