Legumes: Definition, Types, and Examples

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Legumes Definition

Leguminosae plants (singular: legume) are members of the Leguminosae family of plants (Fabaceae). The legume family is sometimes known as Leguminosae. They’re distinguished by their legume-like fruit (or pod) and complex, stipulate leaves.

Many of them produce nitrogen-fixing bacteria in root nodules. After Orchidaceae and Asteraceae, Leguminosae is the third biggest group of terrestrial plants. This family has around 19,500 species.

For human and cattle consumption, many of these species are farmed and harvested. In biology, the term “legume” has a different meaning. It might also refer to the Leguminosae family’s fruit or seed.

The term “pulse,” on the other hand, refers to the dried seeds of leguminous fruit crops.Pulses, according to this definition, contain edible seeds such as dry beans, dry peas, chickpeas, and lentils, but not peanuts or soy. Legmen is a Latin word that means “bean.”

Legumes Varieties

The subfamilies (1) Caesalpinioideae, (2) Mimosoideae, and (3) Faboideae make up the legume family (syn. Papilionoideae). The subfamily Caesalpinioideae is known as the peacock flower subfamily. Many of them are grown as ornamental trees because of their beautiful flowers.

Mimosoideae are tiny plants with colourful stamens and blooms that are not in clusters. Faboideae is the biggest subfamily of legumes. It’s what most people think of when they think about legumes.

The “papilionoid” (butterfly-like) floral morphology of members of this subfamily is one of its distinguishing characteristics: two wing petals, two keel petals, and one standard petal. Edible and inedible legumes are two types of legumes.

Pea legumes, peanuts, lentils, chickpeas, lupins, and beans are all edible. While these plants are considered food crops, other leguminous species are considered weeds, despite the fact that they are legumes.

Kudzu, gorse, Lupinus sp., Robinia pseudoacacia, and Cytisus scoparius are other examples. Some of them, such as uncooked or undercooked red kidney beans, generate toxins and can therefore be toxic.

Legumineous Vegetables Examples

The following are some examples of common legume plants: Alfalfa, Beans, Clover, Carob, Chickpeas, Lentils, Lupins, Mesquite, Peanuts, Peas, Soybeans, Tamarind, and Mimosa are just a few examples.

Legumes vs Beans

Beans and legumes are two separate but related words. Beans are only one of many different varieties of legumes, both in terms of the plant and the seed. A bean, like a legume, can refer to either the plant or its fruit (or seed).

The wild bean plants, or Phaseolus, are a genus of plants in the Phaseolus family. This genus has around 70 species. Other similar plants’ seeds, such as soybeans, broad beans, adzuki beans, and so on, are also referred to as “beans” outside of this genus.

Even phylogenetically unrelated plant seeds, such as coffee seeds, are referred to as “coffee beans” due to their physical similarity to real beans.

Is a Legume Vegetable?

A legume fruit is a fruit in botany, as the name indicates. It’s a sort of basic dry fruit, to be precise. It comes from a single carpel, has a dry mesocarp when mature, and dehisces along the seams on two sides to release the seeds. Peas, beans, kudzu, peanuts, and carob are among the examples.

However, in food science, it is frequently referred to as a vegetable-specifically, a vegetable crop. They are produced for their nutritional benefits in agriculture. They have a high protein and fibre content while being low in fat.

Legumes Importance

They are useful for crop rotation as well as providing food. Inside the legumes’ root nodules, nitrogen-fixing endosymbionts transform nitrogen into other nitrogen-containing chemicals that the plants may conveniently utilise. Many species are unable to use nitrogen in the environment.

As a result, they get their nitrogen from the nitrogenous substances found in the environment. Certain bacteria and archaea, on the other hand, may utilise it directly. Rhizobium, for example, may transform ambient nitrogen into useable nitrogen-containing molecules that they provide to legume roots directly.

As a result, crop planting has become a widespread technique in agriculture, with legumes being included in the crop planting sequence to provide diverse nutrients to the soil, including nitrogenous compounds.

In business, certain legumes are crucial. The gums of the Acacia tree, for example, are utilised. The phytohaemagglutinin (lectins) produced by the Phaseolus plant is isolated for its erythrocyte and leukocyte agglutination and mitogenic activities.

Legumes Citations
  • Legumes tolerance to rhizobia is not always observed and not always deserved. Cell Microbiol . 2020 Jan;22(1):e13124.
  • Nutritional quality of legumes, and their role in cardiometabolic risk prevention: a review. J Med Food . 2013 Mar;16(3):185-98. 
  • Phytochemicals in Legumes: A Qualitative Reviewed Analysis. J Agric Food Chem . 2020 Nov 25;68(47):13486-13496.
  • Anti-inflammatory effects of phytochemicals from fruits, vegetables, and food legumes: A review. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr . 2018 May 24;58(8):1260-1270.
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