Legumes, also referred to as ‘pulses’, include all forms of beans and peas from the Fabaceae (or Leguminosae) botanical family. Leguminous plants yield seeds of variable size, shape and color within a pod.
Six major pulse groups are grown in Australia, namely chickpea, faba/broad bean, field pea, lentil, lupin and vetch. A number of smaller and/or niche market crops are grown including mungbean, azuki bean, navy bean, cowpea and pigeon pea. While soybeans and peanuts are also leguminous plants, they differ from other legumes by having a much higher fat content and so from an agricultural perspective, they are traditionally seen to be oilseed crops. Green peas, snow peas and green beans are also legumes, although in agricultural terms, they are considered vegetable crops.
The better known legumes in Australia include butter beans, haricot (navy) beans, cannellini beans, red kidney beans, broad beans, azuki beans, black-eyed beans, soybeans, mung beans, lentils, split peas, peanuts and chickpeas.