Distribution of Papilionaceae:
It is commonly called pea family. It includes 375 genera. The family is represented in India by 70 genera and 754 species. The members of this family are xerophytes, mesophytes, hydrophytes and halophytes (Desmodium lattifolium).
Economic Importance of Papilionaceae:
- Food: The fruits and seeds of Pisum sativum (H. Matar), Cicer arietinum, (H. Chana), Cajanus cajan (H. Arhar), Dolichos lablab (H. Sem), Vigna aconitifolius (H. Moth), Phaseolus radiatus (H. Moong), P. mungo (H. Urd), Lens esculenta (H. Masur), Glycine max (Soyabean) are used as vegetable and pulse.
- Oil: The seeds of Arachis hypogea are pressed to obtain an oil. It is converted into vegetable ghee after hydrogenation and largely used as substitute for pure ghee. The oil cake is used for cattle feeding. Mungfali is also eaten after roasting.
- Medicine: Glycyrrhiza glabra (H. Mulathi) is used in throat pain and cough. Physostigma venenosum has several alkaloids and sometimes used as an eye ointment. The fresh juice of the leaves of Abrus precatorius (H. Ratti) is said to remove spots of leucoderma. Its seeds have constant weight to an astonishing degree and traditionally used by goldsmiths.
Cyamopsis tetragonoloba (syn. Psoralea tetragonolaea) seeds are laxative, stimulant and produce a colourless essential oil.
- Fibre: Crotalaria juncea (Sunn Hemp or H-Swun) yields fibres, which are used for making rope, mat, coarse canvas, sacks, nets etc. It is a blast fibre.
- Timber: Dalbergia sissoo (H. Shismam), D. latifalia (Indian rose wood) yield timber.
- Dye: Indigofera tinctoria yields a dye – the indigo (H. Neel).
- Ornamental and miscellaneous: Many plants viz., Lathyrus odoratus, Clitoria, Sesbania, Lupinus, Genista, Robinia, etc. are used as ornamental plants in gardens.