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The term legume has two related meanings in botany:

  1. The common name for plant species in the Family Fabaceae
  2. The name of a type of fruit, characteristic of legumes.
Another characteristic of legumes is that they host bacteria in and on their roots. These bacteria, Rizobium, have the ability to take nitrogen gas, N2, out of the air and convert it to a form of nitrogen that is usable by the host plant, NO3. The legume, acting as a host, and the Rizobium bacteria, acting as a provider of usable nitrogen, form a symbiotic relationship.