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Legumes are a large family of plants whose fruit is in the form of a 'pod' that contains several seeds that can be eaten as a vegetable. Lentils, peas, common beans, lima beans, soy beans, peanuts, carob, clover and alfalfa are all legumes. Other members of the Legume family are kudzu, locoweed, wisteria, rosewood, mimosa, acacia, and honey locust.

There are more than 18,000 different plants in the Legume or pea family (Leguminosae). Legumes are the 3rd largest family of flowering plants.

Most legume flowers have 5 petals, with male and female parts on the same flower. Legumes range from in size from small herbaceous plants to large woody trees.

Nitrogen fixation is one of the unusual features of legumes. Nearly all other green plants obtain nitrogen compounds, essential for plant growth, from the soil.  Legumes have a symbiotic relationship with a soil bacteria (Rhizobium) which convert atmospheric nitrogen into a form that can be utilized by the plant. Legumes actually enrich the soil, and are frequently planted to renew nitrogen supplies in the soil that other crops deplete.



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