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LEGUMINOUS PLANTS.   13

deplete the soil, and the same is true, in a general way, of other grasses. Leguminous plants (see page 18) accumulate nitrogen from the air and are of great importance as soil improvers. Clovers return nitrogen to the soil, and thus to a certain degree maintain its fertility.

LEGUMINOUS PLANTS.

 

Name: These plants belong to a large family of a distinct type, called Leguminosw. Peas, Vetches, Beans, Red Clover, Alsike and Alfalfa belong to this great family—that is, the plants which farmers commonly term legumes and clovers. As generally used, the name

clovers " includes Red Clover, Alsike, Dutch Clover, Crimson Clover, Alfalfa, Trefoil, Sweet Clover and other leguminous plants. Botanically, however, only the first four are clovers in the true sense; that is, they belong to the genus Trifolium, whereas Alfalfa, Trefoil and Sweet Clover belong to other genera.

Seed: When splitting a bean or a pea, the two halves seem
to be kept together by the seedcoat only. One of them has a

smooth, more or less shiny surface, on

which no special texture can be dis-

covered by the naked eye. Near the
✓t a . upper end of the other half is a peculiar
organ consisting of two distinct portions.
The upper is a bud (Fig. 5, B.), which
corresponds to the similar formation in

the grass embryo (see page 8). The
lower, which lies close to the seed-
coat, has a thicker upper part (Fig. 5,
St.) and a tapering end (Fig. 5, Rad.),
the former being the stem of the em-
bryo, the latter its root or radicle. By
far the greatest part of the seed (Fig. 5,

Cot.) consists of the two cotyledons of the embryo. A leguminous
embryo has thus two cotyledons whereas a grass embryo has only one.
But a leguminous plant has no endosperm. The function of the en-
dosperm of a grass seed, as stated on page 8, is to supply the embryo
with food during germination. This function in a leguminous plant is
performed by the two cotyledons, which are thick and filled with food.

 

Germination: When the seed of a leguminous plant germinates, the bud (Fig. 5, B.) develops into stem and leaves and the radicle (Fig. 5, Rad.) into the root of the plant. The stem of the embryo

Fig. 5. Section through a Bean. Four times natural size.

B.—Bud.   Rad.—Radicle.

St.—Stem.   Cot.—Cotyledon.

Picture
Picture
Picture

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