Fabaceae (Leguminosae)

The Fabaceae are mostly herbs but include also shrubs and trees found in both temperate and tropical areas. They comprise one of the largest families of flowering plants, numbering some 400 genera and 10,000 species. The leaves are stipulate, nearly always alternate, and range from pinnately or palmately compound to simple. Like the other legume families the petiole base is commonly enlarged into a pulvinus. The flowers are slightly to strongly perigynous, zygomorphic, and commonly in racemes, spikes, or heads. The perianth commonly consists of a calyx and corolla of 5 segments each. The petals are overlapping (imbricate) in bud with the posterior petal (called the banner or flag) outermost (i.e., exterior) in position. The petals are basically distinct except for variable connation of the two lowermost ones called the keel petals. The lateral petals are often called the wings. The androecium most commonly consists of 10 stamens in two groups (i.e., they are diadelphous with 9 stamens in one bundle and the 10th stamen more or less distinct). The pistil is simple, comprising a single style and stigma, and a superior ovary with one locule containing 2-many marginal ovules. The fruit is usually a legume.

Each "thumbnail" image below is linked to a larger photograph.

Abrus precatorius, rosary pea. Ka'a'awa, HI.
Alysicarpus vaginalis, Alyce clover.  Perennial creeping herb with reddish flowers fading to purple; used as fodder and ground cover in India.  In Hawaii, sometimes seen as a weed in lawns.
Canavalia kauaiensis, 'awikiwiki. Hawaiian endemic, note that the orientation of the flower is inverted (resupinate) compared to the species above.
Canavalia sp. Note the typical (but inverted) papilionoid flower with banner, wings, and keel, the banner is clearly exterior in position. The calyx is green and tubular.
Castanospermum australe, Moreton Bay Chestnut, Foster Botanic Garden, Honolulu, HI, April, 2004.
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Clitoria ternatea, butterfly pea. Vine probably from Asia. The bright blue (resupinate) flowers are used to dye rice and cloth in Malaysia; leaves are used to dye food and for fodder.
Crotalaria sp., rattlepod. Note keel, wings, and exterior banner.
Desmodium trifolium, tick trefoil, tick clover.  Naturalized in Hawaii from central Europe - in this case occurring as a lawn weed.  Flowers fade rapidly from reddish to blue as the day progresses.
Erythrina crista-galli, common coral tree, Note resupinate corolla. UH Campus, Honolulu, HI, February 28, 2005.
Erythrina goldmanii
Erythrina variegata, tiger's claw, Indian coral tree.  Note resupinate nature of corolla with the banner lowermost and the "9+1" diadelphous androecium.  UH Campus, Honolulu, HI, 2005.
Gliricidia sepium, madre de cacao. This tree is used to provide shade in coffee and cacao plantations.
Indigofera spicata, creeping indigo. A close relative of this plant (I. suffruticosa) is used to produce the deep blue indigo dye. Note stipules at the nodes at the left side of the photo.
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Inocarpus edulis, Tahitian chestnut.  The actinomorphic, more or less sympetalous corolla and simple leaves in this species are features quite atypical for the Fabaceae.
Lotus formosissimus, vic. Newport, OR, 2002.
Lotus nevadensis. Note the tubular calyx, the conspicuous exterior banner, the long wings, and the relatively short keel.
Lotus uliginosus, Corvallis, OR, Jul 2004.
Lupinus latifolius, broad-leaf lupine, vic. Alsea Falls, OR, 2002.
Lupinus polyphyllus, large-leaved lupine, Finley National Wildlife Refuge, OR, 2002.
Medicago sativa, alfalfa, lucerne, medic.
Mucuna bennettii, red jade vine, Lyon Arboretum, Oahu.
Mucuna gigantea, ka'e'e. Note keel, wings, and exterior banner in this Hawaiian native sea bean.
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Platymiscium stipulare.  The opposite leaves and interpetiolar stipules of this  large tree from Peru are unusual features for the family. The fruit is flat, membranous, and 1-seeded.
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Pterocarpus indicus, Fabaceae, narra, Burmese rosewood. Large tree from S. E. Asia with clusters of fragrant yellow flowers; fruit very distinctive, about 2 inches in diameter, compressed, with a wavy, more or less circular, winged border bearing a short point about half way between the stem and the apex. The durable wood is red with black stripes and is highly prized for cabinetwork and furniture. 
Strongylodon macrobotrys, jade vine. Note the conspicuous exterior banner, the reduced wings, and the prominent curved and pointed keel.
Strongylodon ruber, nuku 'i'iwi, ka 'i'iwi, nuku, endemic to Hawaii.
Tipuana tipu, Fabaceae.  Tree from South America.  The winged fruits are strikingly similar to those of maples and represent an interesting example of convergent evolution of wind dispersed propagules.
Trifolium repens, white clover.
Vicia sativa, tare, vic. Newport, OR, 2002.

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