FabaceaeLegume family






Identification
  -Herbs, shrubs, climbers, and trees;
  -leaves alternate pinnate (rarely opposite pinnate), bipinnate, or bi- or trifoliolate (rarely unifoliolate);
  -leaflets opposite or alternate, entire, petiolules cylindrical;
  -stipules;
  -green bean odor in petiole, leaf, and bark;
  -flowers bilaterally symmetric with 9-10 stamens or radially symmetric with many exserted stamens;
  -fruit a dehiscing pod, rarely indehiscent and fleshy.

Diagnosis: Green bean odor in bark and leaves, bark stringy, free stipules, leaves alternate, compound, ranging from uni- or bifoliate to pinnate or bipinnate, petiolules typically cylindrical, many with nectar glands on petiole or rachis.

Local distribution: Widespread, but more diverse in seasonal lowland habitats.

Similar families
Meliaceae: no stipules, sweet odor.
Simaroubaceae: bitter odor and taste, no stipules, leaflets mostly alternate.

Diversity: Total: 30 genera, 74 species. Trees: 10 genera, 24 species.

Comments: Consists of three subfamilies that are often treated as separate families: Caesalpinioideae, Mimosoideae, and Faboideae (Papilionoideae).



Credits: Images and text copyright 2000-2007, William A. Haber, http://efg.cs.umb.edu/