Genera : 440 +/-

Species: 12,000

  Distribution: Cosmopolitan and world wide.






Economic Uses: Highly important agriculturally as peanut, lentil, licorice, chick pea, common pea and soybean. Also for livestock as alfalfa and clovers. Many ornamental garden species.


To Genus Directories:


To Dendrology Directories:


Defining Features of Interest: The family has a characteristically unique floral structure consisting of the banner or standard, wings and keel. Nitrogen-fixing bacteria are commonly associated with the root nodules. Sometimes the family includes the Caesalpinaceae and the Mimosaceae as subfamilies.

Fossil Evidence: Fossil pollen in the Miocene.

Defining Morphology

Floral Features : Strongly zygomorphic and perfect. Inflorescence as a head, raceme or spike. Perigynous. Corolla as uppermost petals fused to form the standard or banner, the lateral petals as wings and the lower petals fused into a keel and enclosing the A and G.

Fruit and Seed Features : Fruit a legume, either dry or fleshy or a loment. Seed with a hard coat and few to many. Endosperm minimal or lacking. Placentation is marginal.

Vegetative Features : Habit as herbs, shrubs, trees or lianas. Bipinnate to pinnately or palmately compound and alternate (rarely opposite). Sometimes as tendrils. Stipules are present.