Eduardo Estrada Castillón, Alfonso Delgado Salinas, José Villarreal Quintanilla:
Diversity, Uses, and Distributional Patterns of Legume Species in the Major Community Types of Northeastern Mexico


1University Autonomous of Nuevo León, Basic Sciences, Mexico
2Mexico Autonomous National University, Department of Biology, Mexico
3Antonio Narro Agrarian Autonomous University, Botany, Mexico

From the 259 species of legumes recorded, the distribution of 242 wild species of legumes over 224 locations within 12 plant communities was examined in northeastern Mexico. Objectives were: (1) to determine diversity of legumes in the mountains and plains of northeastern Mexico, (2) to elucidate distributional patterns of legumes in this region, and (3) to know what are the main legume species and their main uses in northeastern Mexico. The subfamily Papilionoideae had the largest number of wild genera (47) and species (167), followed by Mimosoideae (13 and 44) and Caesalpinioideae (10 and 31). Genera with the largest number of native species were Dalea (28), Desmodium (16), Astragalus (13), Senna (13), Acacia (11), Phaseolus (10), Crotalaria (9), and Lupinus (8). Of wild legumes, 24 genera had $\geq$3 species each and 21 species were endemic to this area; most were Lupinus (5 species), Astragalus (4), and Dalea (4). Almost all of the 21 endemic species were >1500m in elevation in oak-pine forests (7), oak forests (5), and cool"=temperate forests (5). Only one endemic species occurred <1400m in elevation. Of the endemic species, 90.5% were in the subfamily Papilionoideae. There were 17 cultivated legumes, most of them in Caesalpinioideae. Similarity and dissimilarity matrixes using the Sörensen coefficient were assessed using minimum"=variance clustering. Using diversity of legumes, three assemblages of plant communities were recognised. Oak, oak"=pine, mesic"=conifer, and cool"=temperate forests harbored the highest diversity of legumes, while rosetophyllous and xeric scrublands and halophytic communities contained the lowest diversity. Species of the subfamily Mimosoideae were the most used, main uses includes, forage, fuel, charcoal, handcrafts, furniture, the main genera are Prosopis, Acacia, Havardia, Leucaena, and Ebenopsis. Caesalpinioideae includes 17 species used as ornamentals. All toxic legumes recorded belong to the subfamily Papilionoideae, and includes mainly species of the genera Astragalus and Lupinus. Some species of Papilionoideae are used as medicine (Eysenhardtia texana, Indigofera suffruticosa) and several of them are used as food (Phaseolus vulgaris, Cicer arietinum, Pisum sativum, Vicia faba, and Lens culinaris).

Keywords: Distribution, diversity, legumes, Mexico


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Contact Address: Eduardo Estrada Castillón, University Autonomous of Nuevo León, Basic SciencesKm 145 Carr Linares-Cd. Victoria, 67768 Linares, Mexico, e-mail:
Andreas Deininger, October 2010