Thursday, April 25, 2024
General Agriculture

The Morphology of Legumes: Morphological Characteristics of Legumes

Legumes are divided into four different parts: Roots, Branches, Leaves, and Flowers. The root of legumes occurs as a tap root system with a central tap root that penetrates deep into the soil to provide more support and absorb moisture.

There are lateral roots and root hairs that function as points of entry of solutes (water and minerals) from the soil to the stem or from the stem back to the soil, through osmotic processes.

Roots of legumes possess some nodules (smaller or larger swellings that house some bacterial strains that assist in fixing atmospheric nitrogen into the soil). The size of the nodule depends on the specie.

The stem of legumes is divided into smaller and larger branches, which terminate as flowers. There could be many auxiliary branches on the main stem and each could result in the production of flowers. Also, the branches are subdivided into nodes and internodes.

Leaves of legumes occur in triplicate (i.e. three leaflets making one leaf). There is a central petiole that holds the leaflets together. The leaves have a net venation pattern and their size depends on the species. Different arrangement of leaflets on the stem and branches is observed in the legumes.

Read Also: The Morphology of Grasses: Morphological Characteristics of Grasses

Flowers are found to exist in two places in legumes. They either occur at each terminal bud or at the end of the branches.

However, regardless of their position, they are made up of calyx (base leaves), corolla that contains the petals (not more than five), stamens (male part), and ovules (female part).

The size of the flower depends on the species but most flowers are flamboyant, with a fragrance smell, which is highly attractive to pollinating insects.

In conclusion, pasture and forage crops have unique characteristics that can easily be used to identify them in the field. These morphological differences have a direct effect on the forage yield and quality of the plants. Animals graze the leafy parts of the plants first before other parts are eaten.

This is because the leaves are more palatable and nutritious compared to the stems or branches. Studying the morphological parts of pasture and forage crops will enable us to know how to properly utilize our pasture and forage resources.

Grasses are morphologically divided into fibrous roots and shoots (leaves, stems, and flowers). Legumes are divided into roots, branches, leaves, and flowers

Shrubs are like forage legumes except that they have more woody stems, leaves, and flowers and their height is up to 4 meters.

Read Also: Common Forage Crops used in Livestock Feeding

Morphological Characteristics of Legumes

Morphological Characteristics of Legumes

Legumes, which are a type of plant known for their ability to form a symbiotic relationship with nitrogen-fixing bacteria, possess certain unique features that help us recognize and comprehend them better.

These features, termed as morphological characteristics, refer to the physical traits or structures of the legume plant. Let’s delve into a few essential ones:

1. Leaf Structure: Legumes often have compound leaves, meaning each leaf is comprised of several leaflets. These leaflets are arranged in a specific pattern, resembling the shape of a clover leaf. The compound leaf structure helps legumes capture sunlight effectively for photosynthesis, the process by which plants manufacture their own food.

2. Root Nodules: One distinctive feature of legumes is the development of nodules on their roots. These nodules house nitrogen-fixing bacteria that have the unique ability to convert atmospheric nitrogen into a form that the plant can use for its growth and development. This process is known as nitrogen fixation and is crucial for enriching the soil with this vital nutrient.

3. Stems and Vines: While some legumes have erect and sturdy stems, others, such as certain types of beans and peas, have vine-like stems that climb or sprawl along the ground or on supporting structures. These different stem structures help legumes adapt to diverse environments and growing conditions.

4. Flowers and Fruits: Legume flowers are often distinct, with a unique structure that facilitates pollination. After pollination, legumes produce pods or legume fruits that contain seeds. These pods come in various shapes and sizes, depending on the type of legume. They play a significant role in protecting the seeds and aiding in their dispersal.

5. Adaptations for Nitrogen Fixation: Legumes have developed specific adaptations to foster their symbiotic relationship with nitrogen-fixing bacteria. These adaptations involve the development of specialized structures and biochemical processes that enable them to house and support the growth of these beneficial bacteria within their root systems.

Understanding these morphological characteristics can help us distinguish various types of legumes and comprehend their role in improving soil fertility through nitrogen fixation.

By recognizing these features, we can better appreciate the importance of legumes in agriculture and their contribution to sustainable farming practices.

Read Also: Why the Reuse and Recycling of Plastics are Essential to Waste Management


Benadine Nonye is an agricultural consultant and a writer with over 12 years of professional experience in the agriculture industry. - National Diploma in Agricultural Technology - Bachelor's Degree in Agricultural Science - Master's Degree in Science Education - PhD Student in Agricultural Economics and Environmental Policy... Visit My Websites On: 1. - Your Comprehensive Practical Agricultural Knowledge and Farmer’s Guide Website! 2. - For Effective Environmental Management through Proper Waste Management and Recycling Practices! Join Me On: Twitter: @benadinenonye - Instagram: benadinenonye - LinkedIn: benadinenonye - YouTube: Agric4Profits TV and WealthInWastes TV - Pinterest: BenadineNonye4u - Facebook: BenadineNonye

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