What plants are classified as legumes?


Quick Answer

Plants that bear fruits in pods, such as beans, peas, peanuts, lentils and chickpeas are classified as legumes. Other well known plants that belong to the Leguminosae family are soybeans, clover, tamarind and licorice.

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Full Answer

The Leguminosae family is also known as Fabaceae. Both terms can be used interchangeably to indicate a wide range of flowering shrubs, herbs, vines, vegetables and trees divided into three Leguminosae sub-families. Edible legumes, such as beans, peas and snow peas, belong to the Papilionoideae family. Members of the Mimosoideae subfamily have flowers with radial symmetry, such as acacia, while the subfamily of Caesalpinioideae is mostly made up of trees in moist tropics, such as the logwood tree, orchid tree and tamarind.

Legumes have distinctive flowers, leaves and fruits. The leaves of legumes are usually in the shape of a cup, while the flowers follow the pattern of the pea blossom. The fruits, commonly known as legumes or pods, grow in one-celled seed containers. Pods split between the seams, revealing the fleshy seeds. Most mature pods split in two seams between the valves, but some, such as peanuts, do not open in this way and require force, decay or predation to release the contents. Such plants are called indehiscent legumes or pods.

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