Carnegiea gigantea, Giant Saguaro

Southwest Desert Flora

Home to the plants of the Sonoran, Chihuahuan and Mojave Deserts

Cirsium ochrocentrum, Yellowspine Thistle

The Fabaceae or Leguminosae Family
Legume, Pea and Bean Family

The Fabaceae or Leguminosae Family is the 3rd largest plant family world-wide. They are commonly known as the legume, pea or bean family. This is one of only a few families with two acceptable scientific family names; Fabaceae and Leguminosae.

In North America there are 245 genera with over 3,800 accepted taxa overall. The Plant List includes 24,505 accepted species names and a further 11,633 scientific plant names of infraspecific rank for the family Leguminosae.

The Fabaceae is a large and economically important family with representative growth forms that include trees, shrubs, perennial and annual species. The family is easy to identify by their flowers, fruit (legume) and leaves (compound); 3 significant taxonomic characteristics.

The family includes 3 subfamilies as follows:

Caesalpinioideae; Also known as the Peacock Flower family.
Faboideae; 2 acceptable alternative names, Papilionoideae or Papilionaceae.
Mimosoideae; flowers with small petals and numerous prominent stamens.

The 5 largest genera in this family include Astragalus; (2,481 species), Acacia; (1,380 species), Indigofera; (665 species), Crotalaria; (698 species) and Mimosa; (618 species).

Important agricultural and food plants include; Soybeans, Peas, Chickpeas, Alfalfa, Peanuts, Sweet Peas and Lupines.

References:, updated 02/14/2017
U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service on-line database and USGS ITIS searchh - (accessed 02/14/2017)
The Plant List. a working list of all plant species. accessed 02/14/2017
Wikipedia contributors, 'Fabaceae', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 9 July 2015, 07:59 UTC,
[accessed 10 July 2015]
U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service on-line database – ITIS search