Legumes of Kerala, India: a checklist

Main Article Content

Anoop P. Balan
S.V. Predeep


A checklist of the legumes of Kerala State is presented.  This exhaustive checklist is an outcome of extensive field surveys, collection, identification and documentation of family Leguminosae carried out across Kerala State during the period 2006–2019.  A total of 448 taxa were recorded under five subfamilies and 115 genera.  The majority of the legumes are herbs and shrubs, the rest being trees and woody climbers.  About 81 taxa are endemic to India, especially confined to the Western Ghats biodiversity hotspot, out of which 17 are endemic to  Kerala.  The state is home to two Critically Endangered and six Endangered legumes, facing severe threat of extinction.  Crotalaria is the dominant legume genus in the state with 62 taxa followed by Desmodium and Indigofera.  About 57 genera are represented by single species each.  Legumes are treated according to the latest phylogenetic classification of the Legume Phylogeny Working Group (LPWG).  Updated nomenclature, habit, native countries, voucher specimens, and images of endemic and lesser known legumes found in the state are provided.  Crotalaria multiflora var. kurisumalayana (Sibichen & Nampy) Krishnaraj & N. Mohanan is reduced as a synonym to C. multiflora (Arn.) Benth.

Article Details

How to Cite
Balan, A.P. and Predeep, S. 2021. Legumes of Kerala, India: a checklist. Journal of Threatened Taxa. 13, 5 (Apr. 2021), 18257–18282. DOI:https://doi.org/10.11609/jott.6475.13.5.18257-18282.
Author Biographies

Anoop P. Balan, KSCSTE-Malabar Botanical Garden and Institute For Plant Sciences, Kozhikode, Kerala 673014, India.


S.V. Predeep, PG Department of Botany, SVR NSS College, T.P. Puram P.O., Vazhoor, Kottayam, Kerala 686505, India.

Associate Professor, Dept. of Botany


Ambasta, S.P. (Ed.) (1986). Useful plants of India. Council of Scientific and Industrial Research Publications, New Delhi, 918pp.

Ansari, A.A. (2008). Crotalaria L. in India. Bishen Singh Mahendra Pal Singh, Dehra Dun, 378pp.

APG IV (2016). An update of the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group classification for the orders and families of flowering plants: APG IV. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 181: 1–20. https://doi.org/10.1111/boj.12385

Babu, C.R., S.K. Sharma & B.M. Johri (1987). Leguminosae-Papilionoideae: Tribe-Phaseoleae. Bulletin of the Botanical Survey of India 27: 1–28.

Balan, A.P. & S.V. Predeep (2016). Note on the occurrence of Dunbaria punctata (Leguminosae: Papilionoideae), a little-known legume from the Western Ghats, India. Rheedea 26(2): 157–160.

Balan, A.P., S.V. Predeep & S. Harikrishnan (2014). Desmodium intortum (Fabaceae): a new record for India. Rheedea 24(2): 113–116.

Balan, A.P., S.V. Predeep & P.S. Udayan (2017). Vigna sathishiana (Fabaceae): a new species from southern Western Ghats, India. Journal of Japanese Botany 92(4): 193–198.

Bandyopadhyay, S., K. Thothathri & B.D. Sharma (2006). The genus Bauhinia L. (Leguminosae: Caesalpinioideae) in India. Journal of Economic and Taxonomic Botany 29(4): 763–801.

Bello, M.A., A. Bruneau, F. Forest & J.A. Hawkins (2009). Elusive relationships within order Fabales: Phylogenetic analyses using matK and rbcL sequence data. Systematic Botany 34: 102–114. https://doi.org/10.1600/036364409787602348

Bello, M.A., P.J. Rudall & J.A. Hawkins (2012). Combined phylogenetic analyses reveal interfamilial relationships and patterns of floral evolution in the eudicot order Fabales. Cladistics 28: 393–421. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1096-0031.2012.00392.x

Bentham, G. (1865). Family Leguminosae, pp. 434–600. In: Bentham, G. & J.D. Hooker (Eds.). Genera plantarum, Vol. 1. Lovell Reeve & Co., London, 454pp. https://doi.org/10.5962/bhl.title.747

Bourdillon, T.F. (1908). The Forest Trees of Travancore. Govt. Press, Trivandrum, 498pp.

Bridson, D. & L. Forman (1998). The Herbarium Handbook, Ed. 3. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London, 334pp.

Bruneau, A., M. Mercure, G.P. Lewis & P.S. Herendeen (2008). Phylogenetic patterns and diversification in the caesalpinioid legumes. Botany 86: 697–718. https://doi.org/10.1139/B08-058

Candolle, A. de (1825). Prodromus systematis naturalis regni vegetabilis, vol. 2. Sumptibus sociorum Treuttel et Würtz, Parisiis [Paris], pp. 93-523. https://doi.org/10.5962/bhl.title.286

Cardoso, D., L.P. de Queiroz, H.C. de Lima, E. Suganuma, C. Van den Berg & M. Lavin (2013). A molecular phylogeny of the vataireoid legumes underscores floral evolvability that is general to many early-branching papilionoid lineages. American Journal of Botany 100: 403–421. https://doi.org/10.3732/ajb.1200276

Cardoso, D., L.P. de Queiroz, R.T. Pennington, H.C. de Lima, E. Fonty, M.F. Wojciechowski & M. Lavin (2012). Revisiting the phylogeny of papilionoid legumes: New insights from comprehensively sampled early-branching lineages. American Journal of Botany 99: 1991–2013. https://doi.org/10.3732/ajb.1200380

Chakrabarty, T. & M. Gangopaghyay (1996a). The genus Acacia P. Miller (Leguminosae: Mimosoideae) in Indian subcontinent. Journal of Economic and Taxonomic Botany 20(3): 599–633.

Chakrabarty, T. & M. Gangopadhyay (1996b). The genus Albizia Durazz. (Leguminosae: Mimosaideae) in India. Journal of Economic and Taxonomic Botany 20(3): 589–598.

Cronquist, A. (1968). The Evolution and Classification of Flowering Plants. Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 396pp.

Dahlgren, R. (1983). General aspects of angiosperm evolution and macrosystematics. Nordic Journal of Botany 3: 119–149.

Doyle, J.J., J.A. Chappill, C.D. Bailey & T. Kajita (2000). Towards a comprehensive phylogeny of legumes: Evidence from rbcL sequences and non-molecular data, pp. 1–20. In: Herendeen, P.S. & A. Bruneau (Eds.). Advances in Legume Systematics, part 9. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, U.K, 403pp.

Dugas, D.V., D. Hernandez, E.J.M. Koenen, E. Schwarz, S. Straub, C.E. Hughes, R.K. Jansen, M. Nageswara-Rao, M. Staats, J.T. Trujillo, N.H. Hajrah, N.S. Alharbi, A.L. Al-Malki, J.S.M. Sabir & C.D. Bailey (2015). Mimosoid legume plastome evolution: IR expansion, tandem repeat expansions, and accelerated rate of evolution in clpP. Scientific Reports 5: 16958. https://doi.org/10.1038/srep16958

Engler, A. (1964). Syllabus der Pflanzenfamilien Gebruder. Borntraeger Verlag, Berlin, Germany, 233pp.

Gagnon, E., A. Bruneau, C.E. Hughes, L.P. De Queiroz & G.P. Lewis (2016). A new generic system for the pantropical Caesalpinia group (Leguminosae). PhytoKeys 71: 1–160. https://doi.org/10.3897/phytokeys.71.9203

Gagnon, E., G.P Lewis, J.S. Sotuyo, C.E. Hughes & A. Bruneau (2013). A molecular phylogeny of Caesalpinia sensu lato: Increased sampling reveals new insights and more genera than expected. South African Journal of Botany 89: 111–127. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sajb.2013.07.027

Gamble, J.S. (1918). Flora of the Presidency of Madras, pp. 273–435. Adlard and Son Ltd., London, 577pp.

Hooker, J.D. (Ed.) (1876). The Flora of British India, Vol. 2(4), pp. 56–240. L. Reeve & Co., Henrietta Street, London, 792pp.

Hooker, J.D. (Ed.) (1878). The Flora of British India, Vol. 2(5), pp. 241–306. L. Reeve & Co., Henrietta Street, London, 792pp.

Hutchinson, J. (1964). The Genera of Flowering Plants (Angiospermae) Vol. 1. Clarendon Press, Oxford, 516pp.

Hutchinson, J. (1969). Evolution and Phylogeny of Flowering Plants. Academic Press, London, 717pp.

Hutchinson, J. (1973). The Families of Flowering Plants (3rd Ed.). Clarendon Press, Oxford, 328pp.

IUCN (2020). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2020-1, accessed on 22 June 2021. https://www.iucnredlist.org

Jabbar, M.A., M.V. Krishnaraj & N. Mohanan (2010). Crotalaria incana subsp. purpurascens (Fabaceae) – A New Record for India. Rheedea 20(2): 131–132.

Jagadeesan, R., P. Sureshkumar, A. Gangaprasad, S.P. Mathew & E.S.S. Kumar (2015). Rediscovery of Dalbergia travancorica (LeguminosaePapilionoideae) from the southern Western Ghats. Rheedea 25(2): 125–127.

Judd, W.S., C.S. Campbell, E.A. Kellogg, P.F. Stevens & M.J. Donoghue (2016). Plant systematics: A phylogenetic approach, (4th Edtn.). Sinauer Associates, Sunderland, USA, 570pp.

Kirtikar K.R. & B.D. Basu (1918). Indian Medicinal Plants, Vol. 1-4. Bishen Singh Mahendra Pal Singh, Dehra Dun, Vol. 1- 760pp, ii – 1419pp, iii – 2393pp, iv – 2793pp, total 7365 pp

Koenen, E.J.M., J.M. De Vos, G.W. Atchison, M.F. Simon, B.D. Schrire, E.R. de Souza, L.P. de Queiroz & C.E. Hughes (2013). Exploring the tempo of species diversification in legumes. South African Journal of Botany 89: 19–30. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sajb.2013.07.005

Krishnaraj, M.V. & N. Mohanan (2012). A new Combination in Crotalaria multiflora (Arn.) Benth. (Fabaceae). Phtotaxa 44: 58–62.

Krishnaraj, M.V., N. Mohanan & V.T. Antony (2012). Leguminous additions to the flora of Kerala state. Journal of Economic and Taxonomic Botany 36(3): 604–608.

Kumar, J.K., A.G.D. Prasad & S.A. Richard (2011). Biochemical activity of Endangered medicinal plant Kingiodendron pinnatum. Asian Journal of Plant Science Research1(4):70–75.

Kumar, N.A., M. Sivadasan & N. Ravi (2005). Flora of Pathanamthitta, Western Ghats, Kerala, India. Daya Publishing House, New Delhi, 640pp.

Lewis, G.P. & B.D. Schrire (2003). Leguminosae or Fabaceae? Pp. 1–3. In: Klitgaard, B. & A. Bruneau (eds.). Advances in Legume Systematics, part 10, Higher Level Systematics. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, 422pp.

Lewis, G., B. Schrire, B. Mackinder & M. Lock (Eds.) (2005). Legumes of the World. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, 577pp.

Lewis, G.P., B.D. Schrire, B.A. Mackinder, L. Rico & R. Clark (2013). A 2013 linear sequence of legume genera set in a phylogenetic context: A tool for collections management and taxon sampling. South African Journal of Botany 89: 76–84. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sajb.2013.06.005

LPWG (2013a). Legume phylogeny and classification in the 21st century: Progress, prospects and lessons for other species-rich clades. Taxon 62: 217–248. https://doi.org/10.12705/622.8

LPWG (2013b). Towards a new classification system for legumes: Progress report from the 6th International Legume Conference. South African Journal of Botany 89: 3–9.

LPWG (2017). A new subfamily classification of the Leguminosae based on a taxonomically comprehensive phylogeny. Taxon 66(1): 44–77.

Mabberley, D.J. (1997). The Plant-Book. 2nd Edition, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 858pp.

Manilal, K.S. (1988). Flora of Silent Valley- Tropical Rain forests of India. Bishen Singh Mahendra Pal Singh, Dehra Dun, 398pp.

Manilal K.S. & V.V. Sivarajan (1982). Flora of Calicut: The Flowering Plants of the greater Calicut area consisting of the western sectors of Calicut and Malappuram districts. Bishen Singh Mahendra Pal Singh, Dehra Dun, 387pp.

Mohanan, M. & A.N. Henry (1994). Flora of Thiruvananthapuram. Botanical Survey of India, Calcutta, 588pp.

Mohanan, N. & M. Sivadasan (2002). Flora of Agasthyamala. Bishen Singh Mahendra Pal Singh, Dehra Dun, 889pp.

Murthy, G.V.S. & V.J. Nair (Eds.) (2016). The Flora of Kerala, Vol. 2: Fabaceae-Cornaceae. Botanical Survey of India, Kolkata, 788pp.

Nair, K.K.N. (1989). Genus Dalbergia L.f.(Fabaceae) in Kerala state. Journal of Economic and Taxonomic Botany 13(3): 567–590.

Nair, N.C., P.V. Sreekumar & V.J. Nair (1981). Some rare and interesting plants from Kerala state. Journal of Economic and Taxonomic Botany 2: 224.

Nayar, T.S., A.R. Beegam, N. Mohanan & G. Rajkumar (2006). The Flowering Plants of Kerala, A Handbook. Tropical Botanic Garden and Research Institute, Thiruvananthapuram, 1079pp.

Nayar, T.S., A.R. Beegam, N. Mohanan & G. Rajkumar (2008). Flowering Plants of Kerala: Status and statistics. Rheedea 18(2): 96.

Parrota, J.A. (2001). Healing Plants of Peninsular India. CABI Publishing, Wallingford, United Kingdom, 905pp.

Pokle, D.S. (1999). Novelties in Alysicarpus (Desv.) Fabaceae from India. Reinwardtia 2(4): 285–287.

Pokle, D. (2017). Genus Alysicarpus Desv. in India. MGM College of Agricultural Biotechnology, Aurangabad, 162pp.

Polhill, R.M. & P.H. Raven (Eds.) (1981). Advances in legume systematics, part 1. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, 1050pp.

Prabhukumar K.M., R. Jagadeesan, A. Gangaprasad, S.P. Mathew & I. Balachandran (2016). Macroptilium (Leguminosae: Faboideae), a new genus record for Kerala. Devagiri Journal of Science 2(1): 142–145.

Prasad, K.S., P. Biju & K. Raveendran (2011). Flemingia tuberosa Dalz. (Fabaceae) - a new addition to the flora of Kerala, India. Journal of Economic and Taxonomic Botany 3(2): 1548–1549.

Predeep, S.V. and A.P. Balan (2010). Dalbergia sericea (Leguminosae – Papilionoideae): a new record of introduction in southern India. Rheedea 20(1): 35–37.

Predeep, S.V., A.P. Balan & R.P. Kumar (2009). Two Legumes (Indigofera – Fabaceae) New to Kerala. Journal of Economic and Taxonomic Botany 33(4): 824–828.

Predeep, S.V., A.P. Balan & V.P. Prasad (2008). Senna uniflora (Mill.) Irwin & Barneby (Fabaceae–Caesalpinioideae) – A New record to Kerala. Indian Journal of Forestry 31(3): 435–436.

Ramachandran, V.S. & V.J. Nair (1988). Flora of Cannanore. Botanical Survey of India, Calcutta, 599pp.

Rao, M.R. (1914). Flowering Plants of Travancore. Govt. Press, Trivandrum, 448pp.

Sanjappa, M. (1986). A revision of the genus Humboldtia Vahl (Leguminosae-Caesalpinioideae). Blumea 31: 329–339

Sanjappa, M. (1995). Revision of the genus Indigofera in India. Fascicles of Flora of India 21: 1–160.

Sanjappa, M. (1992). Legumes of India. Bishen Singh Mahendra Pal Singh, Dehradun, India, 280pp.

Sasidharan, N. (1997). Studies on the flora of Shenduruny Wildlife Sanctuary with emphasis on endemic species. KFRI Research Report No. 128. Kerala Forest Research Institute, Peechi, Kerala, 401pp.

Sasidharan, N. (1998). Studies on the flora of Periyar Tiger Reserve. KFRI Research Report No. 150. Kerala Forest Research Institute, Peechi, Kerala, 558pp.

Sasidharan, N. (1999). Studies on the flora of Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary. KFRI Research Report No. 167. Kerala Forest Research Institute, Peechi, Kerala, 365pp.

Sasidharan, N. (2002). Floristic studies in Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary. KFRI Research Report No. 167. Kerala Forest Research Institute, Peechi, Kerala, 408pp.

Sasidharan, N. (2004). Biodiversity Documentation for Kerala. Part 6. Flowering plants. Kerala Forest Research Institute, Peechi, Kerala, 702pp.

Sasidharan, N. (2011). Flowering plants of Kerala: CD-ROM ver. 2.0. Kerala Forest Research Institute, Peechi, Kerala.

Sasidharan, N. & V.V. Sivarajan (1996). Flowering Plants of Thrissur Forests. Scientific Publishers, Jodhpur, 579pp.

Shipunov, A.B. (2009). Systema Naturae or the outline of living world classification. Protistology 6(1): 3–13.

Sibichen, M.T. & S. Nampy (2007). Crotalaria kurisumalayana Sibichen & Nampy (Fabaceae), a new species from India. Candollea 62: 105–108.

Singh, V. (2001). Monograph on Indian subtribe Cassiinae (Caesalpiniaceae). Scientific Publishers, Jodhpur, India, 279pp.

Sinou, C., F. Forest, G.P. Lewis & A. Bruneau (2009). The genus Bauhinia s.l. (Leguminosae): A phylogeny based on the plastid trnL-trnF region. Botany 87: 947–960. https://doi.org/10.1139/B09-065

Sivarajan, V.V. & P. Mathew (1997). Flora of Nilambur, Western Ghats, Kerala. Bishen Singh Mahendra Pal Singh, Dehra Dun, 822pp.

Subramanian K.N. (1995). Flora of Thenmala division. International Book distributors, Dehra Dun, 516pp.

Sunil C.N. & Sivadasan M. (2009). Flora of Alappuzha District, Kerala, India. Bishen Singh Mahendra Pal Singh, Dehradun, 949pp.

Takhtajan, A. (1959). Die Evolution der Angiospermen. Gustav Fischer Verlag, Jena, Germany, 477pp.

Takhtajan, A. (1966). Sistema I filogeniya tsvetkovykh rasteni. Izdatel’stvo “Nauka”, Moskva- Leningrad (in Russian), 412pp.

Takhtajan, A. (1973). Evolution and Ausbreitung der Blutenpflanzen. Gustav Fischer Verlag, Stuttgart, Germany, 522pp.

Takhtajan, A. (1980). Outline of the classification of flowering plants. Botany Review 16: 225–359.

Taubert, P. (1894). Family Leguminosae, 70–396pp. In: Engler, A. & K. Prantl (Eds.). Die natürlichen Pflanzenfamilien, vol. 3(3). Leipzig: Engelmann, 468pp.

Thorne, R.F. (1976). A phylogenetic classification of the Angiospermae. Evolutionary Biology 9: 35–106.

Thorne, R.F. (2000). The classification and geography of the flowering plants. Dicotyledons of the class Angiospermae. Botany Review 66: 441–624.

Thothathri, K. (1982). Leguminosae: Genus -Derris. Fascicles of flora of India. Fascicle 8. Botanical Survey of India, Kolkata, 33pp.

Thothathri, K. (1987). Taxonomic Revision of the Tribe Dalbergieae in the Indian Subcontinent. Botanical Survey of India, Calcutta, 172pp.

Thothathri, K. & D.N. Das (1991). A new species of Tephrosia Pers. From Kerala. Rheedea 1(1-2): 57–58.

Turland, N.J., J.H. Wiersema, F.R. Barrie, W. Greuter, D.L. Hawksworth, P.S. Herendeen, S. Knapp, W.-H. Kusber, D.-Z. Li, K. Marhold, T.W. May, J. McNeill, A.M. Monro, J. Prado, M.J. Price & G.F. Smith (Eds.) (2018). International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants (Shenzhen Code) adopted by the Nineteenth International Botanical Congress Shenzhen, China, July 2017. Regnum Vegetabile 159. Glashütten: Koeltz Botanical Books, 254pp. https://www.iaptglobal.org/the-code-pdf

Vadhyar, R.G. & J.H.F. Benjamin (2019). A new species of Phanera (Leguminosae: Cercidoideae) from the Western Ghats of Kerala, India. Phytotaxa 401(2): 139–145.

Vajravelu, E. (1990). Flora of Palghat district including Silent valley National Park, Kerala. Botanical Survey of India, Calcutta, 606pp.

Vance, C.P., P.H. Graham & D.L. Allan (2000). Biological Nitrogen fixation. Phosphorous: a critical future need, pp. 506–514. In: Pedrosa, F.O., M. Hungria, M.G. Yates & W.E. Newton (Eds.). Nitrogen fixation: From molecules to crop productivity. Kluwer Acad. Publishers, Nederlands, 664pp.

Wojciechowski, M.F. (2003). Reconstructing the phylogeny of legumes (Leguminosae): An early 21st century perspective, pp. 5–35. In: Klitgaard, B.B. & A. Bruneau (Ed.). Advances in Legume Systematics. Part 10- Higher Level Systematics. Royal Botanic gardens, Kew, UK, 422pp.