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Jepson Interchange (more information)
©Copyright 1993 by the Regents of the University of California

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



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.


Elizabeth McClintock

Tree, armed with spines at nodes
Stem ± zigzag; bark smooth, green
Leaves 2-pinnate, alternate; main axis a spine generally < 2 cm, persistent; 1° leaflets 1–3 pairs, crowded, main axis flat, persistent; 2° leaflets many
Inflorescence: raceme
Flower slightly bilateral; sepals ± free, all alike; petals yellow; stamens 10, free, exserted
Fruit dehiscent, oblong, ± inflated, generally narrowed between seeds
Species in genus: 2 species: 1 Am, 1 Africa; cultivated
Etymology: (J. Parkinson, London, apothecary and author, 1567–1650)
Reference: [Carter 1974 Proc Calif Acad Sci 40(2):18–20; 50–54]
Lvs sometimes considered 1-pinnate, alternate or in clusters of 1–6 in spine axils, with main axis flat, persistent, 1° leaflets many.


P. aculeata L.


Tree < 12 m
Leaf 1–3 dm; main 1° leaflet axis < 30 cm, conspicuous, persistent as ribbon-like streamer; 2° leaflets 30–60, scattered, 3–5 mm, 1–1.5 mm wide, elliptic, ephemeral
Inflorescence < leaf
Flower ± 2 cm wide; sepals reflexed; petals ± round, banner red-spotted at base, becoming entirely red in age
Fruit 5–10 cm, ± thickened, leathery
Seeds several
Ecology: Uncommon. Disturbed, dry places
Elevation: < 400 m.
Bioregional distribution: San Joaquin Valley, South Coast, Western Transverse Ranges, Peninsular Ranges
Distribution outside California: native to deserts of Arizona, Baja California, S.America

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