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  • Up-to-date information about California vascular plants is available from the Jepson eFlora.

FABACEAE

LEGUME FAMILY

Annual to tree
Leaves generally compound, alternate, stipuled; leaflets generally entire
Inflorescence: generally raceme, spike, umbel or head; flowers sometime 1–2 in axils
Flowers generally bisexual, generally bilateral; hypanthium generally flat or cup-like; sepals generally 5, fused; petals generally 5, free, or the 2 lower ± fused; stamens 1–many, often 10 with 9 filaments at least partly fused, 1 (uppermost) free; pistil 1, ovary superior, generally 1-chambered, ovules 1–many, style, stigma 1
Fruit: legume, sometimes including a stalk-like base above receptacle, dehiscent, or indehiscent and breaking into 1-seeded segments, or indehiscent, 1-seeded, and achene-like
Seeds 1–several, often ± reniform, generally hard, smooth
Genera in family: ± 650 genera, 18,000 species: worldwide; with grasses, requisite in agriculture and most natural ecosystems. Many cultivated, most importantly Arachis , peanut; Glycine , soybean; Phaseolus , beans; Medicago ; Trifolium ; and many orns
Reference: [Polhill & Raven (eds) 1981 Advances in legume systematics; Allen & Allen 1981 Leguminosae]
Family description and key to genera by Duane Isely.

LOTUS

Duane Isely

Annual, perennial herb, shrub, unarmed
Leaves generally odd-1-pinnate (sometimes ± palmately compound, rarely some or most simple); stipules conspicuous or not; leaflets 3–many, often irregularly arranged
Inflorescence: umbel or 1–2-flowered, axillary, generally peduncled, often bracted
Flower: corolla generally yellow (sometimes white or pink), fading darker; 9 filaments fused, 1 free
Fruit dehiscent or not, exserted from calyx or not, ovoid to oblong, ± beaked
Seeds 1–several
Etymology: (Greek: derivation unclear)
Reference: [Isely 1981 Mem New York Bot Garden 25:128–206]
Spp. generally variable; intermediates may be hybrids. Key below separates natural groups.

Native

L. strigosus (Nutt.) Greene

Annual, often fleshy, hairy or not
Stem prostrate, generally branched from base
Leaf: stipules gland-like; leaflets 4–9, generally alternate, 3–10 mm, oblanceolate to obovate; axis ± flat, ± blade-like
Inflorescence 1–2-flowered; peduncle generally bracted
Flower: calyx 3–5.5 mm, lobes < tube; corolla opening or not, 5–10 mm, yellow, turning orange or reddish, wings generally > keel; stigma puberulent
Fruit dehiscent, 1–3.5 cm, generally ± curved only at or near tip
Seeds several
Chromosomes: 2n=14
Ecology: Coastal scrub, chaparral, foothills, deserts, roadsides, other disturbed areas
Elevation: < 2300 m.
Bioregional distribution: Great Central Valley, Central Western California, Southwestern California, Desert
Distribution outside California: Arizona, Mexico
Flowering time: Mar–Jun
Synonyms: var. hirtellus (E. Green) Ottley; L. tomentellus Greene
Several variants often recognized (see Isely, pp. 193–198); plants in CA-FP generally ± strigose, with narrow leaflets; plants in D fleshy, generally canescent, with wide leaflets. Conspicuous in spring.

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