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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.


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.


L. salsuginosus Greene

Annual, often fleshy, very small to robust, glabrous or strigose
Stems clustered, prostrate or ascending
Leaf irregularly pinnate; stipules generally not apparent; leaflets 3–7, ± alternate, 0.5–1.5 cm, obovate or ± round, terminal largest; axis flat, ± blade-like
Inflorescence 2–4-flowered (fruit often only 1); peduncle bract leaf- or leaflet-like or perhaps 0
Flower: calyx 2–4 mm, lobes < tube; corolla 3.5–10 mm, wings ± = or < keel
Fruit dehiscent, generally 1.5–3 cm, narrowly oblong, often curved; beak short, hooked
Seeds few–many
Chromosomes: 2n=14
Ecology: Coastal scrub, foothill woodlands, washes, talus, deserts including mtns
Elevation: < 1850 m.
Bioregional distribution: Central Western California, Southwestern California, Desert
Distribution outside California: Nevada, Arizona, Mexico

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