The Fabaceae (Leguminosae of authors including Isely and Polhill, 1981, Polhill and Raven, 1981, and Polhill, 1994a, 1994b) traditionally is divided into three subfamilies: Caesalpinioideae, Mimosoideae, and Faboideae (Papilionoideae in Polhill and Raven, 1981, and Polhill, 1994a, 1994b). Hutchinson (1964) and Cronquist (1981) recognized the subfamilies as three separate families. The Fabaceae comprises 685 genera, has more than 18,000 species (Polhill, 1997), and is the third largest flowering plant family after Asteraceae and Orchidaceae (Mabberley, 1997). However, only Poaceae rivals Fabaceae in agricultural importance, although the spectrum of legume uses is much greater. The past, present, and future value has been documented recently by Duke (1981), ILDIS and CHCD (1994), the National Academy of Sciences (1979), Polhill (1997), Schery (1972), Simpson and Ogorzaly (1995), Skerman (1977), Summerfield and Bunting (1980), and Vaughan and Geissler (1997).

Charles R. (Bob) Gunn participated in the First International Legume Conference at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, in 1978. The principal objective of the Conference was to arrive at a consensus on the tribal and generic classification of the legumes, and the objective was met (Polhill and Raven, 1981). Gunn recognized that this would enable sweeping family-wide studies of many legume aspects. As a first step in his studies, he surveyed legume seed characters (Gunn, 1981a, 1981b), and then prepared a nomenclator of legume genera for use in his databases (Gunn, 1983). He soon decided that legume fruits should be included in his studies because fruits are the units of dispersal for some legumes. Legume fruits and seeds were gathered from institutions and individuals throughout the world and incorporated into the U. S. National Seed Herbarium (BARC), Beltsville, Maryland. Using these resources, he prepared and published treatments covering the fruits and seeds for genera of subfamilies Caesalpinioideae and Mimosoideae (Gunn, 1984, 1991). The third and final volume, covering subfamily Faboideae, was prepared by Kirkbride, Gunn, and Weitzman (2003). After submitting the third volume for publication, Kirkbride converted the data and illustrations from all three volumes to electronic format, and it was published on a CD-ROM (Kirkbride et al., 2000). The overall objectives of this Internet version, the CD-ROM, and the three bulletins, were threefold: 1. Collect complete, comparative fruit and seed data for all legume genera, elucidating their fruit and seed morphology and correcting traditional errors in legume literature; 2. Develop tools, images, and data for accurate and rapid identification to genus of either isolated fruits and seeds or herbarium specimens bearing fruits or seeds; and 3. Contribute to our understanding of the evolutionary history of legumes and their tribal and generic systematics by providing essential fruit and seed data for all genera.

In general, the subfamilial classification and phylogenetic numbering of Polhill (Polhill and Raven, 1981; Polhill, 1994a, 1994b) have been used. For those genera and tribes that have been the subjects of recent discoveries or phylogenetic analyses, we have used the most recent, generally accepted circumscriptions, phylogenetic orders, and numbering systems. The Fourth International Legume Conference was held in Canberra, Australia in 2001. The objective of the conference was to re-evaluate the subfamilial classification of the legumes using DNA data and cladistic principles. Many new ideas and concepts regarding subfamilial legume classification were presented and discussed, but a new, complete subfamilial classification of the legumes, with significant differences from that of Polhill, has yet been formulated as a result. Therefore, we are continuing to use Polhill’s (1994a, 1994b) subfamilial classification and phylogenetic numbers.

Neither mature fruit or seed material nor published data were available for the following 14 genera:

J.D. Dwyer (1.2.11, subfamily Caesalpinioideae, tribe Cassieae)
A.R.K.R. Sastry (3.7, subfamily Faboideae, tribe Millettieae)
E.G. Baker (3.10.79, subfamily Faboideae, tribe Phaseoleae)
R. Wilczek (3.10.17, subfamily Faboideae, tribe Phaseoleae)
W.B. Hemsley (3.24.05, subfamily Faboideae, tribe Mirbelieae)
H.W. Schott (3.1.10, subfamily Faboideae, tribe Swartzieae)
A.D.E. Elmer (3.10.23, subfamily Faboideae, tribe Phaseoleae)
W.B. Hemsley (3.11.26, subfamily Faboideae, tribe Desmodieae)
W.A. Ducke (3.2.25, subfamily Faboideae, tribe Sophoreae)
P.E. Boissier & T.H.H. von Heldreich (3.18.05, subfamily Faboideae, tribe Hedysareae)
P.H.W. Taubert (3.30.07, subfamily Faboideae, tribe Genisteae)
G.P. Yakovlev & N. Ulziykhutag (3.16.13, subfamily Faboideae, tribe Galegeae)
B.-E. Van Wyk & A.L. Schutte (3.25.07, subfamily Faboideae, tribe Podalyrieae)
O.E. Ulbrich (3.14.18, subfamily Faboideae, tribe Aeschynomeneae)

The following 13 genera were represented by fruits or valves:

F. Pellegrin (1.4.32, subfamily Caesalpinioideae, tribe Detarieae)
(H.A.T. Harms) R.S. Cowan (1.4.52, subfamily Caesalpinioideae, tribe Detarieae)
G.O.A. Malme (3.7, subfamily Faboideae, tribe Millettieae)
J.J.G. Léonard (1.4.03, subfamily Caesalpinioideae, tribe Detarieae)
D. Prain (1.4.17, subfamily Caesalpinioideae, tribe Detarieae)
H.A.T. Harms (3.7, subfamily Faboideae, tribe Millettieae)
J.J.G. Léonard (1.4.13, subfamily Caesalpinioideae, tribe Detarieae)
A.K. Schindler (3.11.04, subfamily Faboideae, tribe Desmodieae)
A. Delgado Salinas & G.P. Lewis (3.10.69A, subfamily Faboideae, tribe Phaseoleae)
R.S. Cowan (1.4.51, subfamily Caesalpinioideae, tribe Detarieae)
J.F. Royle (3.13.08, subfamily Faboideae, tribe Loteae)
E.L.R. Tulasne (3.2.32, subfamily Faboideae, tribe Sophoreae)
D.J. Du Puy & J.-N. Labat (3.7, subfamily Faboideae, tribe Millettieae)

For subfamily Caesalpinioideae, unpublished data (pers. commun.) were supplied by reviewers of tribes: Caesalpinieae, R.S. Cowan and G.P. Lewis; Cassieae, Rupert C. Barneby; Cercideae, Richard P. Wunderlin; and Detarieae, R.S. Cowan and R.M. Polhill.

For subfamily Mimosoideae unpublished data (pers. commun.) were supplied by reviewers of tribes Parkieae, H.C. Hopkins; Mimoseae, G.P. Lewis; Acacieae, L. Pedley; and Ingeae, Rupert C. Barneby and I.C. Nielsen.

For subfamily Faboideae unpublished data (pers. commun.) were supplied by reviewers of tribes: Aeschynomeneae, Vela E. Rudd; Amorpheae, Rupert C. Barneby; Cicereae, L.J.G. Van Der Maesen; Dalbergieae, R.T. Pennington, Vela E. Rudd, and K. Thothathri; Desmodieae, Shinobu Akiyama; Euchresteae, Hiroyoshi Ohashi; Galegeae, Rupert C. Barneby, Aaron Liston, Dieter Podlech, and Andrey Sytin; Genisteae, Chaia Clara Heyn; Hedysareae, K. Thothathri; Loteae, Ana M. Arambarri and Chaia Clara Heyn; Millettieae, Frits Adema and K. Thothathri; Phaseoleae, Paul R. Fantz, Alfonso Delgado Salinas, and L.J.G. Van Der Maesen; Robinieae, Matt Lavin; Sophoreae, Patrick S. Herendeen and Velva E. Rudd; Swartzieae, Patrick S. Herendeen; Thermopsideae, B.L. Turner; Trifolieae, Chaia Clara Heyn and Ernest Small; and Fabeae, Nigel Maxted.