This family has species that range from annuals to trees; the leaves are generally compound, alternate and stipulated with entire leaflets. The inflorescence is generally a raceme, spike, umbel or head. Flowers are generally bisexual, and bilateral; the hypanthium is generally flat or cup-like. There are generally 5 fused sepals, 5 free petals or the lower two fused. Stamens are 1 to many. The fruit is a legume. (Hickman Ed, 577)
This most significant family is distributed throughout the world with over 10,000 species-many of which are of great economic importance, providing food, forage, dyes and wood. Clover, alfalfa, senna, balsam, peanuts, indigo and all the peas and beans belong here. (Dale 108).