Legume


Legume

A legume is a plant in the family Fabaceae (or Leguminosae), or a fruit of these specific plants. 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 pod is also applied to a few other fruit types, such as vanilla. Well-known legumes include alfalfa, clover, peas, beans, lentils, lupins, mesquite, carob, and peanuts.

History

The term legume is derived from the Latin word "legumen" (with the same meaning as the English term), which is in turn believed to come from the verb "legere" "to gather." English borrowed the term from the French "légume," which, however, has a wider meaning in the modern language and refers to any kind of vegetable; the English word legume being translated in French by the word légumineuse.

The history of legumes is tied in closely with that of human civilization, appearing early in Asia, the Americas (the common bean, several varieties), and Europe (broad beans) by 6,000 BC, where they became a staple, essential for supplementing protein where there was not enough meat.

Fixation of nitrogen in the soil

Legume plants are noteworthy for their ability to fix atmospheric nitrogen, thanks to a symbiotic relationship with certain bacteria known as rhizobia found in root nodules of these plants. The ability to form this symbiosis reduces fertilizer costs for farmers and gardeners who grow legumes, and allows legumes to be used in a crop rotation to replenish soil that has been depleted of nitrogen.

Legume seed and foliage have a comparatively higher protein content than non-legume material, probably due to the additional nitrogen that legumes receive through nitrogen-fixation symbiosis. This high protein content makes them desirable crops in agriculture.

Uses by humans

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.

Forage legumes are of two broad types. Some, like alfalfa, clover, vetch, stylo, 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 stock 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. [The gene bank and breeding of grain legumes (lupine, vetch, soya, and beah) / B.S. Kurlovich and S.I. Repyev (Eds.), - St. Petersburg, The N.I. Vavilov Institute of Plant Industry, 1995, 438p. - (Theoretical basis of plant breeding. V.111)]

Bloom legume species include species such as lupin, which are farmed commercially for their blooms as well as being popular in gardens worldwide.

Industrial farmed legumes include Indigofera and Acacia species, which are cultivated for dye and food gum production respectively.

Fallow/green manure legume species are cultivated to be tilled back into the soil in order exploit the high nitrogen levels found in most legumes. Numerous legumes are farmed for this purpose including Leucaena, Cyamopsis, and Sesbania species.

Various legume species are farmed for timber production worldwide, including numerous Acacia species, Erythroxylum species and Castanospermum australe.

ee also

* Pulse (legume)

References

External links

* [http://www.grainlegumes.com AEP] - European association for grain legume research
* [http://lupins-bk.blogspot.com/ Lupins] - Geography, classification, genetic resources and breeding
* [http://www.ildis.org/ ILDIS] - International Legume Database & Information Service
* [http://www.legumechef.com/English/Variedades_en.htm Legume classes] from LegumeChef.com
* [http://www.bioversityinternational.org/Publications/pgrnewsletter/article.asp?id_article=6&id_issue=124 Bioversity International] The significance of Vavilov’s scientific expeditions and ideas for development and use of legume genetic resources


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Synonyms:
(of two valves)


Look at other dictionaries:

  • légume — [ legym ] n. m. et f. • 1611; au fém. 1575; lesgum XIVe; lat. legumen « plante à gousse » I ♦ N. m. 1 ♦ (aussi n. f. au XVIIe) Vx Graines qui se forment dans des gousses. 2 ♦ (1690) Mod. Plante potagère dont certaines parties ( …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Legume — Légume Étal de légumes variés …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Legume — Leg ume (l[e^]g [ u]m or l[ e]*g[=u]m ), n. [F. l[ e]gume, L. legumen, fr. legere to gather. So called because they may be gathered without cutting. See {Legend}.] 1. (Bot.) A pod dehiscent into two pieces or valves, and having the seed attached… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • legume — plant of the group of the pulse family, 1670s, from Fr. légume (16c.), from L. legumen pulse, leguminous plant, of unknown origin. One suggestion ties it to L. legere to gather (see LECTURE (Cf. lecture) (n.)), because they can be scooped by the… …   Etymology dictionary

  • legume — LEGUME. s. m. Il se dit proprement & particulierement de certains petits fruits verds qui viennent dans des gousses, comme pois, feves &c. Il n y a guere de meilleur legume que les pois. Il se dit aussi generalement de toute sorte d herbe… …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie française

  • legume — [leg′yo͞om΄, li gyo͞om′] n. [Fr légume < L legumen, lit., anything that can be gathered < legere, to gather: see LOGIC] 1. any of an order (Fabales) of dicotyledonous herbs, shrubs, and trees, including the peas, beans, mimosas, and the… …   English World dictionary

  • legume — s.m. [lat. legŭmen ( mĭnis )]. 1. (bot.) [frutto caratteristico delle piante leguminose] ▶◀ baccello. 2. [al plur., semi delle diverse leguminose alimentari: minestra di l. ] ▶◀ ⇓ ceci, fagioli, fave, lenticchie, piselli …   Enciclopedia Italiana

  • legume — s. m. 1. Grão das plantas faseoláceas. 2.  [Botânica] Planta hortense que dá vagem. 3. Produto da horticultura. 4. Hortaliça …   Dicionário da Língua Portuguesa

  • legume — ► NOUN 1) a leguminous plant grown as a crop. 2) a seed, pod, or other edible part of a leguminous plant, used as food. ORIGIN Latin legumen, from legere to pick …   English terms dictionary

  • Légume — Étal de légumes variés Légumes cultivés dans un jardin potager …   Wikipédia en Français


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.