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Aquatic and Wetland Vascular Plants of the Northern Great Plains

Fabaceae - The Bean Family


Perennial herbs and shrubs (those included here) with pinnately compound, alternate, usually stipulate leaves; leaflets 3-many, the terminal one sometimes modified as a tendril (Lathyrus). Inflorescences of densely to loosely flowered, simple or branched racemes. Flowers perfect, irregular, hypogynous to somewhat perigynous; calyx regular to strongly irregular, 5-lobed; corolla of 5 separate lobes (only 1 lobe in Amorpha), these unequal, the upper median lobe termed the standard, exterior to and larger than the others, the 2 lateral petals termed the wings, exterior to the lowest ones which are called the keel petals, the latter partly coherent to enclose the stamens and style; stamens 10, monadelphous or diadelphous in a 9 + 1 arrangement; pistil 1, simple, with a single stigma and style, ovary 1-celled, maturing into a legume (pod) which is dehiscent by 2 sutures or indehiscent, sometimes constricted between the seeds (Desmodium) and ultimately breaking into 1-seeded joints or segments.

Lead Characteristic Go To
1 Shrub; corolla 1-lobed, only the standard present. Genus Amorpha
1 Herbs; corolla 5-lobed. Lead 2
2 Plants climbing; leaves with a tendril at the tip; fruits smooth. Genus Lathyrus
2 Plants erect; leaves without tendrils; fruits with hooked hairs or prickles. Lead 3
3 Leaflets 3; petals reddish-purple, drying dark blue; fruit with hooked hairs, constricted between the seeds. Genus Desmodium
3 Leaflets 7-21; petals cream or creamy-white; fruit with stout hooked bristles, not constricted between the seeds. Genus Glycyrrhiza


28. Fabaceae, the Bean Family
1. Amorpha L.
1. Amorpha fruticosa L. -- False indigo
2. Desmodium Desv. -- Tickclover
1. Desmodium canadense (L.) DC. -- Canada tickclover
3. Glycyrrhiza L. -- Licorice
1. Glycyrrhiza lepidota Pursh -- Wild licorice
4. Lathyrus L. -- Vetchling
1. Lathyrus palustris L. -- Marsh vetchling


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