What are legumes? | Gardening On

Legumes are plants that produce legumes

Legumes are plants that can be very useful in the kitchen. With its seeds we prepare dishes such as cooked lentils or beans, which in addition to being delicious have important health benefits. In fact, being rich in fiber and protein, they are a very interesting food to include in any healthy diet.

But, did you know that there are other plants that are also legumes and that, instead, we only use to beautify our gardens and / or patios? These are trees and shrubs that, although they do not usually have seeds suitable for human consumption, do present other qualities, such as very showy flowers and / or a more than acceptable resistance to drought.

What are legumes?

Legumes are fast growing herbsLegumes are fast growing herbs.

Image – Wikimedia Commons / Hectonichus // Emerus hippocrepis

The legumes are plants that produce fruits in the form of legumes; that is to say, elongated and with a few rounded or oval seeds of brown, white, green or even black color depending on the variety. They are classified within the Fabaceae family, so it is also correct to say that they are fabaceous plants.

They are found in places where the climate is warm or warm-temperatebut there are a greater number of species in the tropical and subtropical regions of Africa and America. In addition, there are many that support more or less long dry periods, since they have roots that grow several meters below the soil surface looking for moisture. These species are the ones with the smallest leaves compared to the rest, as they consume less water than the larger ones. It is also important to add that they fix atmospheric nitrogen to the ground.

Although when we talk about legumes, peas, soybeans, or beans for example come to mind, it is interesting to note that those that produce seeds suitable for consumption are few. There are many, many more that are used for ornamental purposes.

What is the difference between legumes and legumes?

Legumes are the fruits of legumes; that is, legumes are a type of plant. These have seeds that tend to germinate very well, either by sowing them directly if they are herbs, or a pregerminative treatment known as heat shock if they are trees.

Thermal shock consists of putting them in boiling water for a second with the help of a strainer, and then putting them in another glass of water at room temperature for 24 hours before sowing them.

Classification of legumes

Legumes are classified as follows:

  • Tribe Cercidae: they are trees and shrubs with very showy flowers like the bauhinia variegata or You are looking for a forest.
  • Tribe Detarieae: it includes trees that, for the most part, are native to Africa, such as the Tamarindus indica (tamarind).
  • Genus Duparquetia: it only has one species, the Duparquetia orchidaceawhich is a small tree native to tropical Africa.
  • Subfamily Caesalpinioideae: is where we will find more ornamental plants, such as Caesalpinia, Senna or even the Ceratonia siliqua (carob tree).
  • Subfamily Mimosoideae: Acacia, the plant Mimosa chasteor the Calliandra belong to this subfamily. They are plants that are characterized by having inflorescences reminiscent of ballerina pompoms, whose size and color vary from one species to another.
  • Subfamily Faboideae: in it we will find legumes suitable for consumption, such as beans (addictive faba), or peas (The pea plant). But also some plants of ornamental interest, such as the Erythrina tree.

What are the kinds of edible legumes?

Now we are going to focus on those legumes that are edible. These are the ones that we can grow in the garden, or if you prefer in a flowerpot, to take advantage of their seeds. For instance:

  • bean: also called beans or kidney beans, they are the seeds of a plant whose scientific name is Phaseolus. They are rich in protein, fiber and also contain minerals as well as vitamins A and B. It is annual and climber, fast growing, reaching approximately 1 meter.
  • Broad beans: they are the seeds of the grass addictive faba. It is annual, and can reach 1,5 meters high. It is the main ingredient in beans stew, although they are also served dry (that is, prepared without broth), and even fresh. They are a rich source of vitamins, fiber, and minerals like magnesium, iron, and calcium.
  • Lentils: they are produced by the herbaceous plant culinary lenses. This is 40 centimeters high, and is one of the richest legumes in fiber that exist, providing 11 grams per 100 grams of food. In addition, magnesium, iron, phosphorus and potassium are also obtained from them, among others.
  • Pea: peas or peas are the seeds of the The pea plant. It is a herbaceous plant with a climbing habit that reaches a height of 60-70 centimeters. It provides vitamins such as A, B, C and E, as well as minerals such as zinc, sodium, or iron.
  • Soybean: soy is produced by the Glycinemaxa grass that can grow between 20-100 centimeters tall. It is a good source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

What are its benefits?

Legumes have several benefits for human health. One of the main ones is that help fight constipationimproving intestinal transit. In addition, they are an important source of vegetable proteins, so if you are vegan or vegetarian you can consume them without problems.

They are foods that improve the health of both the skin, hair and nails. This is due to its high percentage of vitamin B. Also, contain a lot of ironessential for the formation of red blood cells, which are those that carry oxygen throughout the body.

Types of ornamental leguminous plants

There are many legumes that are grown in gardens, patios and terraces. Some of them are the following:

Caesalpinia gilliesii

Caesalpinia gilliesi is a leguminous shrubCaesalpinia gilliesi is a leguminous shrub

Image – Wikimedia / pizzodisevo 1937

The Caesalpinia gilliesii It is an evergreen shrub native to Argentina that reaches 2 meters in height. It has leaves with multiple green leaflets, and inflorescences composed of yellow flowers which sprout in spring. It resists frosts down to -7ºC.

You are looking for a forest (Tree of love)

The Cercis siliquastrum is a tree of the legumesThe Cercis siliquastrum is a leguminous tree

Image – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The You are looking for a forest It is a deciduous tree native to the Mediterranean region that can measure up to 15 meters in height, but normally does not exceed 5 meters. In spring its pink flowers sprout directly from the branches. It is very resistant, withstanding frosts down to -10ºC.

Delonix direction (flamboyant)

The flamboyan is a deciduous treeThe flamboyan is a deciduous tree.

Image – Flickr / Mauricio Mercadante

El flamboyan It is a deciduous tree natural to Madagascar, but very, very cultivated in tropical regions of the world, especially America. In Spain we will see it a lot in the Canary Islands, but in the Balearic Islands and the peninsula it is more difficult. It reaches 15 meters in height, and from a young age it has a parasol crown composed of green leaves. Its flowers are red or orange and measure about 8 centimeters. It is sensitive to frost.

Erythrina crista-galli (Kapok)

The ceibo is a legume tree that has red flowersThe ceibo is a legume tree that has red flowers.

Image – Flickr / Cyril Nelson

El kapok It is a deciduous tree native to Argentina and Bolivia mainly that reaches a maximum height of 8 meters. The leaves are green, and the flowers are grouped in clusters of very striking red color. Withstands frosts down to -4ºC, provided they are short-lived.

Sensitive mimosa (Mimosa pudica)

Mimosa pudica is a legume that closes its leavesThe Mimosa pudica is a legume that closes its leaves

Image – Flickr / Katja Schulz

La Mimosa pudica It is a plant native to Brazil that measures approximately 70 centimeters in height. Although it lives for several years, in Europe it is grown as an annual plant since it does not withstand cold winter. It has leaves that close to the minimum touch, and some lilac flowers that appear in spring.

As you can see, there is a great variety of legumes. We hope you have found it interesting.

What are legumes? | Gardening On

Leave a Reply

Scroll to top
%d bloggers like this: