Family Fabaceae Lindley 1836 nom conserv the Pea or Bean Family

Physical description: The family Fabaceae consists of 400 genera and 10000 species of herbs, shrubs and trees. Fabaceae are known to contain tannins, mucilages, anthraquinones, isoflavonoids, triterpenoid saponins, cyanogen glycosides, quinolizidine, pyrrolizidine, indole and simple tetrahydroisoquinoline alkaloids. The family Fabaceae is thought to have originated from the family Caesalpiniaceae and it is the most advanced family of the order Fabales. In this family, the leaves are simple or compound, and stipulate. The flowers are zygomorphic with the adaxial petal overlapping the lateral petals. The andrecium comprises of 10 stamens. The

gynecium consists of a single carpel forming a single-locular ovary. The fruits are pods.

Cytisine Sparteine

Pharmaceutical interest: Examples of useful products are Pisum sativum L. (peas), Arachis hypogaea L. (ground nuts), Glycine max (L.) Merr. (soya beans), and Indigofera tinctoria L. (indigo). A number of plants classified within the genera Cytisus, Laburnum, Lupinus and Crotalaria are toxic on account of quinolizidine alkaloids such as cytisine, sparteine and anagyrine. These alkaloids are strong agonists of nicotinic receptors, hence causing hypersalivation, burns in the mouth, vomiting, excitation, convulsion and death by respiratory arrest. One example is Laburnum anagyroides L. (golden chain tree) which is a leading cause of calls to poison control centers in Europe. Cytisus scoparius Link. (Scotch broom) contains sparteine which is used as a cardiac analeptic to treat stubborn cases of atrial fibrillation. A number of plant species from the genus Lupinus are responsible for untimely delivery in cattle on account of anagyrine, an alkaloid which contracts the uterus. Melilotus officinalis (yellow sweet clover), Psoralea argophylla (scurf pea), Dipterix odorata Willd. (Tonka bean) cause lethal hemorrhages on account of coumarins which inhibit blood clotting. Dolichos lablab (hyacinth bean), Lotus corniculatus (birdsfoot trefoil), Phaseolus lunatus (Lima bean), Trifolium repens (white clover) and Vicia owe their toxicity to cyanogen glycosides. Individuals genetically deficient in glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase develop severe haemolytic anemia (fav-ism) after ingesting the beans of Vicia faba.

Physostigmine (eserine)

Physostigmine (eserine)



+CH3 Acetylcholine

Classical examples of pharmaceutical products are Physostigma veneno-sum Balf. (Calabar bean), Myroxylon balsamum (L.) Harms (Tolu basalm) and Glycyrrhiza glabra L. (liquorice). Physostigma venenosum Balf. contains physostigmine which is used to treat myasthenia gravis and primary glaucoma. Physostigmine is structurally close to acetylcholine and inhibits the enzymatic activity of cholinesterase, an enzyme responsible for the catabolism of acetylcholine into choline. Hundreds of plant species from Fabaceae are medicinal in the Asia-Pacific.

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