Rosidae: Fabales. 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.
|Canavalia sp. Note the typical papilionoid flower with banner, wings, and keel, the banner is clearly exterior in position. The calyx is green and tubular.|
|Canavalia kauaiensis, 'awikiwiki. Hawaiian endemic, note that the orientation of the flower is inverted (resupinate) compared to the species above.|
|Crotalaria sp., rattlepod. Note keel, wings, and exterior banner.|
|Mucuna gigantea, ka'e'e. Note keel, wings, and exterior banner in this Hawaiian native sea bean.|
|Strongylodon macrobotrys, jade vine. Note the conspicuous exterior banner, the reduced wings, and the prominent curved and pointed keel.|
|Lotus nevadensis. Note the tubular calyx, the conspicuous exterior banner, the long wings, and the relatively short keel.|
|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.|
|.||Clitoria ternata, butterfly pea. Vine probably from Asia. The bright blue flowers are used to dye rice and cloth in Malaysia; leaves are used to dye food and for fodder.|
Flowering Plant Family Access Page