Gardening & Outdoor

The Complete Leguminous Plants Guide

The Complete Leguminous Plants Guide
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Leguminous plants belong to the Leguminosae or Fabaceae family that include beans, peas and lentils. Legume refers to the edible seed pods of these plants. These seeds can be used as a dry grain as well, called pulse. All legumes contain symbiotic nitrogen-fixing bacteria in structures called root nodules. These plants are important as they prevent the deterioration of soil by the process of crop rotation. This process ensures healthy crop growth. There is more about leguminous plants that you should know. Here is a complete guide.

General Characteristics:

  • These plants are found in most areas of the world. These are one of the fast growing and affordable food crops. Legume plants include vine types as well as creeping ground covers. These are flowering plants.
  • There is a wide range of edible nuts and vegetables in this plant category. Some which are not edible also provide many benefits for soil health. 
  • All legume pods break into two equal hemispheres.
  • Some legumes such as alfalfa or clover can be used as cattle fodder. 
  • These are high in protein and have low glycemic index. These provide fats for vegans who do not consume animal products. These plants are also rich in fiber.
  • Common legumes are beans, peas, alfalfa, fava, red clover and cowpeas. 

Types of Legumes:

The common types include beans and peas. Pole or bush beans are leguminous plants with long slender pods, while peas have shell-type pods. Stringless varieties of beans are easier to consume, while snow or sugar peas contain soft shells that can be eaten whole. Some beans like kidney, cranberry or black beans need to be shelled and dried and then cooked. There are around 18000 species of legumes. Even peanuts are a member of the legume family.

How to Grow Legumes by Organic Crop Method?

How to Grow Legumes by Organic Crop Method

Legumes are often grown as cover crops or mixed in lawn seed as they have a unique ability to fix nitrogen. They can convert pure nitrogen into ammonia form, which can then be used by plants. They contain a special bacteria in their root nodules that starts to multiply and fixes the nitrogen. The plants then take up this nitrogen. This bacteria in the root nodules, known as Rhizobium, does not cause any damage to the plants. This is a classic example of a symbiotic relationship. The nitrogen produced by these leguminous plants lingers in the soil even for a while after the plants die. It is therefore a common practice to cut pea and bean plants at the base and leave the roots in the soil, so that the nitrogen-fixing nodules continue feeding other plants and crops.

Leguminous plants are easy to grow. Each pod contains multiple seeds and there are multiple pods per plant. These plants produce a large harvest in a relatively smaller space. Not only for soil health, leguminous plants are also tasty and healthy. They are low in fat, high in fiber and rich in protein, iron, zinc, calcium, selenium, B vitamins and antioxidants.

Recommended Legume Intake:

As legumes do not contain a high amount of saturated fat like red meat, you can consume it upto 20 gm per day in a 2000 calorie diet per day. High amounts of saturated fat can contribute to cardiovascular diseases. 

Nutritional Value:

Legumes are rich in protein, carbohydrates, dietary fiber, dietary minerals. 100 gm serving of cooked chickpeas contain 18% of the DV for protein, 30% DV of fiber, 43% DV for folate, and 52% DV for manganese. These plants are rich sources of starch that gets broken down by bacteria in the large intestine to release short-chain fatty acids which are used by the cells in the intestine to produce energy.

Regular consumption of legumes in a plant-based diet reduces the risk of metabolic syndrome. A cup of pulses consumed daily can help lower blood pressure and also help reduce LDL cholesterol levels. 

These are important characteristics, features and nutritional information on leguminous plants. These are farmers’ favorite crops as they grow easily on any kind of soil. 

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