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A selection of various legumes

A legume (Template:IPAc-en or Template:IPAc-en) is a plant in the family Fabaceae (or Leguminosae), or the fruit or seed of such a plant. Legumes are grown agriculturally, primarily for their food grain seed (e.g., beans and lentils, or generally pulse), for livestock forage and silage, and as soil-enhancing green manure. Legumes are notable in that most of them have symbiotic nitrogen-fixing bacteria in structures called root nodules. Well-known legumes include alfalfa, clover, peas, beans, lentils, lupins, mesquite, carob, soybeans, peanuts, tamarind, and the woody climbing vine wisteria. Legume trees like the Locust trees (Gleditsia, Robinia) or the Kentucky coffeetree (Gymnocladus dioicus) can be used in permaculture food forests.[1]

A legume fruit is a simple dry fruit that develops from a simple carpel and usually dehisces (opens along a seam) on two sides. A common name for this type of fruit is a pod, although the term "pod" is also applied to a few other fruit types, such as that of vanilla (a capsule) and of radish (a silique).

Nitrogen-fixing ability

Many legumes (alfalfa, clover, peas, beans, lentils, soybeans, peanuts and others) contain symbiotic bacteria called Rhizobia within root nodules of their root systems. (Plants belonging to the genus Styphnolobium are one exception to this rule.) These bacteria have the special ability of fixing nitrogen from atmospheric, molecular nitrogen (N2) into ammonia (NH3).[2] The chemical reaction is:

Ammonia is then converted to another form, ammonium (NH4+), usable by (some) plants by the following reaction:

This arrangement means that the root nodules are sources of nitrogen for legumes, making them relatively rich in plant proteins. All proteins contain nitrogenous amino acids. Nitrogen is therefore a necessary ingredient in the production of proteins. Hence, legumes are among the best sources of plant protein.

When a legume plant dies in the field, for example following the harvest, all of its remaining nitrogen, incorporated into amino acids inside the remaining plant parts, is released back into the soil. In the soil, the amino acids are converted to nitrate (NO3-), making the nitrogen available to other plants, thereby serving as fertilizer for future crops.[3][4]

In many traditional and organic farming practices, crop rotation involving legumes is common. By alternating between legumes and nonlegumes, sometimes planting nonlegumes two times in a row and then a legume, the field usually receives a sufficient amount of nitrogenous compounds to produce a good result, even when the crop is nonleguminous. Legumes are sometimes referred to as "green manure".

Uses by humans

Freshly dug peanuts (Arachis hypogaea), indehiscent legume fruits
White clover, a forage crop

Farmed legumes can belong to many agricultural classes, including forage, grain, blooms, pharmaceutical/industrial, fallow/green manure, and timber species. Most commercially farmed species fill two or more roles simultaneously, depending upon their degree of maturity when harvested.

Forage legumes are of two broad types. Some, like alfalfa, clover, vetch (Vicia), stylo (Stylosanthes), or Arachis, are sown in pasture and grazed by livestock. Other forage legumes such as Leucaena or Albizia are woody shrub or tree species that are either broken down by livestock or regularly cut by humans to provide livestock feed.

Grain legumes are cultivated for their seeds, and are also called pulses. The seeds are used for human and animal consumption or for the production of oils for industrial uses. Grain legumes include beans, lentils, lupins, peas, and peanuts.[5]

Legume species grown for their flowers include lupins, which are farmed commercially for their blooms as well as being popular in gardens worldwide.{{ safesubst:#invoke:Unsubst||date=__DATE__ |$B= {{#invoke:Category handler|main}}{{#invoke:Category handler|main}}[citation needed] }} Industrially farmed legumes include Indigofera and Acacia species, which are cultivated for dye and natural gum production, respectively.{{ safesubst:#invoke:Unsubst||date=__DATE__ |$B= {{#invoke:Category handler|main}}{{#invoke:Category handler|main}}[citation needed] }} Fallow/green manure legume species are cultivated to be tilled back into the soil in order to exploit the high levels of captured atmospheric nitrogen found in the roots of most legumes. Numerous legumes farmed for this purpose include Leucaena, Cyamopsis, and Sesbania species. Various legume species are farmed for timber production worldwide, including numerous Acacia species and Castanospermum australe.{{ safesubst:#invoke:Unsubst||date=__DATE__ |$B= {{#invoke:Category handler|main}}{{#invoke:Category handler|main}}[citation needed] }}

Nutritional facts

Legumes are among the best protein sources in the plant kingdom. Since legumes are relatively cheap compared to meat, eating more legumes may be an alternative to meat for some.

Vegetarian cooks often serve legumes along with grains, which are low in the essential amino acid lysine, creating a more complete protein than either the beans or the grains on their own. Common examples of such combinations are the Indian Dal and rice, Mexican beans with corn tortillas, and the Middle Eastern Hummus (Chickpea spread commonly served with Pita bread) and Mujaddara (A dish consisting mainly of rice and lentils).[6]

List of Legumes

This list is not a definitive list of legumes. There are also legumes of similar names differing in either culture they come from with similar qualities to the others. This list also may also contain Heirloom seeds. The list also contains variation in prep of the seed, example being like Tofu and Tofu Mayonnaise.

Legumes A-C Legumes D-L Legumes M-R Legumes S-Z
Daal Maicoba Bean Salty Black Bean
Aburage Dal Maine Yellow Eye Saluggia
Dark Miso Mame Miso Salugia Bean
Akamiso Deep-Fried Tofu Mamemiso Scarlet Runner Bean
Anasazi Beans Dermason Bean Mape Sendai Miso
Appaloosa Bean Dhaal Marron Shell Bean
Dhal Marrow Bean Shinshu Miso
Arhar Dhall Masar Shiro Miso
Arhar Dal Doufu Masar Dal Shiromiso
Asuki Bean Dow Fu Kon Masoor Sieva Bean
Atsuage Dow See Masoor Dal Silken Tofu
Dried Bean Curd Stick Masur Dal Lentils
Awase Miso Dried Bean Stick Matki Small Red Bean
Azufrado Bean Dried Chestnut Mayocoba Bean Small White Bean
Baby Lima Bean Egyptian Bean Mellow Miso Snoober
Bamboo Yuba Egyptian Lentil Mexican Black Bean Soy Cheese
Barley Miso Egyptian White Broad Mexican Red Bean Soy Mayonnaise
Bayo Bean European Soldier Bean Miso Soy Nut Butter
Extra-Firm Tofu Moath Soy Nuts
Eye Of Goat Bean Molasses Face Bean Soy Sour Cream
Fagioli Moong Dal Soy Yogurt
Fagiolo Romano Mortgage Lifter Bean Soybean Paper
Fayot Mortgage Runner Bean Soybean Paste
Fazolia Bean Mugi Miso Soynut Butter
Fermented Bean Cake Mung Bean Spanish Black Bean
Beechmast Fermented Bean Curd Mung Pea Spanish Tolosana Bean
Black Lentil Fermented Black Bean Mungo Bean Speckled Brown Cow
Fermented Soy Cheese Mussoor Split Black Lentils
Bengal Gram Flageolet Mussoor Dal Split Lablab Beans
Foo Yi Nama Nori San Steuben Yellow Bean
Black Adzuki Bean Foo Yu Nama-Age Steuben Yellow Eye
Nato Sui-Doufu
Black Bean French Green Lentils Natto Swedish Brown Bean
Frijo Bola Roja Nattou Sweet Miso
Black Chickpeas Frijole Negro Navy Bean Sweet White Miso
Black Gram Fu Jook Pei Nigari Tofu Tempe
Black Lentil Fu Yu Okara Tempeh
Fuji Mame Orca Bean Tofu
Bean Genmai Miso Pea Bean Tofu Mayonnaise
Black Turtle Bean German Lentil Peanut Tofu Sour Cream
Bolita Bean Gram Dal Tolosana Bean
Bonavist Bean Great Northern Bean Pecan Tongues Of Fire Bean
Borlotti Bean Green Gram Peruano Bean Toor
Boston Bean Green Lentil Peruvian Bean Toor Dal
Boston Navy Bean Hang Yen Petite Beluga Lentil Tremmocos
Breadnut Seeds Haricot Bean Pignoli Trout Bean
Brown Lentil Haricot Blanc Bean Pignolia Tur
Brown Rice Miso Hatcho Miso Pignolo Tur Dal
Brown Speckled Cow Hat-Cho Miso Pine Kernel Turtle Bean
Buah Keras Hyacinth Bean Pink Bean Tuvar
Butternut Inaka Miso Pink Lentil Tuvar Dal
Butterscotch Calypso Inariage Pinolea Tvp
Calypso Bean Indian Bean Pinoli Uba
Canaria Bean Indian Brown Lentil Piñon Unohana
Canario Bean Jackson Wonder Bean Pinto Bean Urad Dal
Chana Dal Kala Channa Pinyon Usuage
Channa Dal Kali Dal Pressed Tofu Usu-Age
Chestnut Lima Bean Kemiri Prince Bean Val Dal
Chili Bean Kidney Bean Purple Appaloosa Bean Vallarta Bean
Chilke Urad Kinu-Goshi Puy Lentils Water Caltrop
Chinese Black Bean Kirazu Rajma Wet Bean Curd
Chinese Yuba Kluwak Kupas Rattlesnake Bean Whit Bean
Chowli Dal Kyoto Shiro Miso Red Ball Bean White Kidney Bean
Christmas Lima Bean Lablab Bean Red Eye Bean White Lentils
Chufa Lablab Beanval Red Kidney Bean White Miso
Coco Bean Lentilles Du Puy Red Lentil White Pea Bean
Coco Blanc Bean Lentilles Vertes Du Puy Red Miso Yankee Bean
Continental Lentil Ling Chio Refried Beans Yellow Indian Woman Bean
Crab Eye Bean Ling Jiao Regular Tofu Yellow Lentils
Cranberry Bean Ling Kio Roasted Soybeans Yellow Lentils
Ling Kok Roman Bean Yin Yang Bean
Lingot Bean Rosecoco Bean Yuba
Lupini Bean Pea


See also


  1. Cirrus Digital: Tree Encyclopedia
  2. The Nitrogen cycle and Nitrogen fixation, Jim Deacon, Institute of Cell and Molecular Biology, The University of Edinburgh [1]
  3. Postgate, J (1998). Nitrogen Fixation, 3rd Edition. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge UK
  4. {{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=book }}
  5. The gene bank and breeding of grain legumes (lupine, vetch, soya, and beah), B.S. Kurlovich and S.I. Repyev (eds.), St. Petersburg: N. I. Vavilov Institute of Plant Industry, 1995, 438p. – (Theoretical basis of plant breeding. V.111)
  6. Vogel, Steven. Prime Mover – A Natural History of Muscle. W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., USA (2003), p. 301. ISBN 0-393-32463-X; ISBN 978-0-393-32463-1. in Google books
  7. Template:Cite web

Further reading

Varshney, RK & Kudapa H (eds) 2014, Legume Biology, CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne.

External links

Template:Sister Template:Americana Poster Template:Commons category-inline

  • AEP - European association for grain legume research
  • [2] - Genetic Resources of Leguminous Plants in the N.I. Vavilov Institute of Plant Industry
  • Lupins - Geography, classification, genetic resources and breeding
  • ILDIS - International Legume Database & Information Service
  • [3] - The significance of Vavilov's scientific expeditions and ideas for development and use of legume genetic resources
  • Legume Futures A major research initiative to develop novel uses for legumes in environmentally and economically sustainable cropping.

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