The Pea Family
This very large family consists of trees, shrubs, vines and perennial and annual herbs. The stems may be self supporting and erect with or without spines; climbing species have twisting branch tips as well as tendrils. Root often bear nodules harboring nitrogen-fixing bacteria. Their leaves are alternate, usually with stipules. Leaves usually pinnate or bipinnate, seldom unifoliolate (as Cercis where the compound leaf is reduced to a single leaflet) or simple. Petioles usually present. Flower clusters are usually racemes, corymbs, spikes , heads or panicles, rarely solitary. The flowers are usually bisexual, and radially symmetric with 5 sepals that are free or fused into a tube; petals are present in as many number as sepals; the petals are highly differentiated into a papillonaceous corolla: an outermost upper petal (the standard), two lateral petals more or less parallel to each other ( the wings), and the lower two innermost petals usually fused by their lower margins which form the keel. Stamens, 10 free or often fused by their filaments, form a closed or open sheath. The ovary is superior and is nearly always composed of a solitary carpel which is unilocular or chambered. The fruit is a pod (a legume) that opens by one or both sutures.
The member of this family have a global distribution with woody members generally more prominent in the tropics and herbaceous genera more diverse in temperate regions. The family has about 745 genera. Its members have had wide use. Foods include soybean (Glycine max), peanut (Arachis hyogea), garden pea (Pisum sativum), fava bean (Vicia fava), common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris), black eye bean (Vigna unguiculata), lentils (Lens culinaris), chickpea (Cicer arietinum), edible pulp of Tamarind (Tamarindus indica). Faba is the Latin form of the Proto-Indo-European bhabh