Images of dry tropical habitat: the Legume Family (Fabaceae)
If you throw
a stick anywhere in the dry tropics, chances are it will hit a member of
the Legume Family. Chances are the stick is from a legume, too. The Legume
Family is by far the most important family in dry tropical habitats both
in terms of species diversity and number of individuals. The family is of
enormous economic importance for food, fuel, fodder, and other products
such as gums (locust bean gum and guar).
is divided into three subfamilies:
Mimusoid legumes (subfamily Mimusoideae)
Caesalpinoid legumes (subfamily Caesalpinoideae)
- 1. Acacias
in the Rift Valley near Lake Magadi in southern Kenya.
- 2. Acacia
sp. in Michoacán, Mexico.
- 3. Dichrostachys
sp. in the Mikea Forest of western Madagascar.
- 4. Calliandra
sp. in central Puebla, Mexico.
- 5. Enterolobium
curvisiliqum in northern Argentina.
- 6. - 7.
Acacia drepanolobium on the Laikipia Plateau in central
Kenya. 6. and 7. show examples of the extensive stands this species commonly
forms. 8. shows the swollen thorn bases that are inhabited by ants.
Acacia cornigera is another species of Acacia that hosts ants
in hollow thorns. The photo shows a few ants on the leaves. The orange
bodies on the leaflet tips are packets of carbohydrates the ants collect
and eat. The knobs on the leaf axis secrete a sugary liquid that the ants
drink. This species was photographed in coastal Guerrero, Mexico.
Acacia tortilis in northeastern Oman.
Papilionoid legumes (subfamily Papilionoideae)
Cassia sp. in central Mexico.
12. Parkinsonia aculeata photographed in Hidalgo, Mexico.
13. Caesalpinia in southern Puebla, Mexico.
14. Delonix elata in the Rift Valley in southern Kenya.
15. Cercidium praecox leafless and in flower in southern Puebla,
Mexico. The dark tufts on the branches are the epiphyte Tillandsia stricta.
Coming soon... papilionoids are very common in the temperate zone
but less important in the lowland tropics.
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exploration - acknowledgements
Instituto de Biología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma
Circuito Exterior s/n, Ciudad Universitaria
Copilco, Coyoacán A. P. 70-367
C. P. 04510, México, D. F.
(52) 55 5622-9127 fon (52) 55 5555-1760 fax
all material © 2002 Mark E Olson