Legume family

Botanical name

Fabaceae also known as leguminosae

Features of legumes

Plants in the legume family cover a wide range from big trees to shrubs from vines climbing using tendrils to small annual herbs. Most legumes fruits are pods. The pods contain the seeds.

Legume fruit are very nutritious and offer a high content of protein. Legumes are grown as animal fodder and for human consumption. Some legumes (chickpeas, runner beans, kidney beans, garden beans, soy beans) have a high content of lectins which are toxic to humans when eaten raw and in bigger quantities. Peas don’t show high lectin counts. As many as 5 raw seeds of runner beans though have been shown to result in headaches, stomach and gut symptoms, vomiting and diarrhea. Especially in kids and when susceptible people ate a lot of raw beans lectins can be deadly.

Many legumes host root bacteria in structures called root nodules. Those bacteria, can take nitrogen gas (N2) out of the air change it into a form the plant can use (ammonia or nitrate). This process is called nitrogen fixation. This is why legumes don’t need much nitrogen based fertiliser and are very good planted into a bed that had to host heavy feeders like brassicas before.

Species we grow

Climbing beans, dwarf beans, broad beans, sugar snaps, snow peas

Other common plants in this family

Alfalfa, lentil, carob, soy, acacia, peanut, chickpea, tamarind, clover, sweet pea, golden wattle