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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


item Kirkbride, Joseph - Joe
item Gunn, C
item Dallwitz, M

Submitted to: Acta Horticulture Proceedings
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/22/2003
Publication Date: 4/14/2004
Citation: Kirkbride, J.H., Gunn, C.R., Dallwitz, M.J. 2004. Interactive identification of genus of legume (fabaceae) fruits and seeds via the internet. Acta Horticulture Proceedings. v. 631 pp.55-61.

Interpretive Summary: Seeds in the legume family that includes peas and beans are commercially important in ways ranging from food and forage crops to noxious weeds. Many of these seeds are difficult to identify. A comprehensive reference on the seeds of legumes has been published that allows legume seeds to be quickly and reliably identified to genus. The identification system includes an interactive key for the identification of seeds in the 683 legume genera. For each genus a full description and illustrations are presented. The characters and several character states are fully referenced with illustrations to clarify their meaning. This publication explains details of this reference for the user audience and analyzes the data presented. Results of this research will be used to allow the accurate identification of legume seeds. Such identifications are made by scientists throughout the world as well as by plant regulatory and seed trade officials in order to prevent the introduction of noxious legume weed seeds and verify the purity of seed lots.

Technical Abstract: The legume (or Fabaceae) family has 686 genera and more than 17,600 species. Fruit data (157 characters) were collected for 669 genera, seed data (127 characters) for 655 genera, and distributional data (six characters) for all genera. Our final data matrix has 105,033 items of fruit data, 83,185 items of seed data, and 4,122 items of distributional data. Approximately 1,360 images were attached to the genera, and 205 images to individual characters. The knowledge base in combination with the Intkey software program, incorporating the rules for identification and the inference engine, form an Expert System. It operates on microcomputers and can be used for: 1) identification of legume seeds and fruits to genus through interaction between users and the knowledge base with characteristics of the user's choice; and 2) retrieval of information concerning seeds, fruits, and distribution of legume genera, adapted to the specific needs of each user. The system is accessible via the Internet at

Last Modified: 05/27/2017
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