6/1 – 7/31, 2019
By Wang Chiu-mei
A legume is a plant in the family Leguminosae (or Fabaceae), or the fruit or seed of such a plant. With over 770 genera and 19,500 species, it is the third largest family of flowering plants, behind only Orchidaceae and Asteraceae. Morphologically and ecologically, the legume is a very diverse family. They can grow as herbs, vines, shrubs, or large trees. Most of them have soft green stems and flowers with five petals. The flowers later grow into pods, which hold the plant’s seeds. Pods come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and textures. A pod releases its seeds by splitting open along two seams.
Second only to gramineous plants, leguminous plants are very important to humans. In addition to providing food and oil, they can be used as feed, forage, green manure, cover, shade, fiber, firewood, fertility restorer, medicine, chemical and ornament ... etc. In a world urgently requiring more sustainable agriculture, food security and healthier diets, the demand for legume crops is on the rise. They are agroecological and socioeconomic domains!
To integrate with the Museum’s current special exhibition “Seeking Seeds: A Hundred Seeds, A Thousand Quests” displayed in the Museum’s 1st Exhibition Gallery, we present the new Legumes online exhibition curated by Wang Chiu-mei, a skilled botanist at the Museum’s Botanical Garden. Twelve legumes with different fruit forms are introduced in details in the exhibition, including Hymenaea courbaril, Mimosa pigra, Schizolobium parahybum, Inga edulis, Cassia fistula, Enterolobium cyclocarpum, Abrus precatorius, Tetrapleura tetraptera, Uraria crinite, Stizolobium pruriens, Archidendron lucidum, and Phanera purpurea.
If the online exhibition can’t satisfy your curiosity, you can visit these twelve legumes in person in the Museum’s Collection & Research Gallery. Each of the specimens is arranged under the spotlight and in rotation so that you can see them clearly. Or, you can go to our past online exhibition Seeds: The Golden Gems of Life to know more about seeds.