Legume Taxonomy Working Group

Develop one universally accepted list of legume species names!

Coordinators : Anne Bruneau (Université de Montréal, Canada) and Marianne le Roux (South African National Biodiversity Institute, SANBI, South Africa).


The Legume Taxonomy Working Group has the central goal of putting together a community-endorsed consensus list of legume species names and their synonyms. Because several online sources are now out of date, the legume community considered this initiative critical to underpin ongoing and future research in the family. Our aim is to provide an accurate and up-to-date family classification that can be used for downstream analyses of all kinds for applied and fundamental research questions, including conservation, agronomic and green infrastructure purposes. This up-to-date species list will also provide the critical backbone for other LPWG working groups focusing on assembling occurrence and functional trait data from public databases, literature and collections, for example. Ultimately, we would expect the LPWG-verified and endorsed species list to be adopted and used as the taxonomic backbone for Leguminosae for large international initiatives such as the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF), Catalogue of Life, World Flora Online, and several ongoing phylogenomic projects. This is important to avoid duplication of efforts by a small pool of taxonomic experts.


In collaboration with Rafaël Govaerts at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, the Taxonomy Working Group initiated the process using Kew’s core checklist data, available for download on Kew’s World Checklist of Vascular Plants (WCVP). This core checklist links to the International Plant Name Index (IPNI) and also underlies the Plants of the World Online website. The WCVP list includes all the Darwin Core fields that the legume community considers important for downstream analyses. To revise the list of legume species names, a network of 38 coordinators for the subfamilies (and tribes for Papilionoideae) were assigned the task of approaching and coordinating interested legume taxonomic experts for assistance in checking and editing the list of legume names. The revised lists are forwarded to Rafaël Govaerts who checks the proposed modifications and integrates the information in an updated legume species list. The Taxonomy Working Group has also established a committee whose role is to evaluate and arrive at a decision about conflicting taxonomies (often, whether or not to recognise certain genera), and which met for the first time in December 2020. The revised species list acknowledges the input of contributors to the ratification of the legume taxonomy. A first version (July 2021) of this list of accepted names has been published by WCVP and is visible on the Catalogue of Life Checklistbank Catalogue of Life ChecklistBank and on our Legume Data Portal.

Future plans

Eventually the taxonomic list can be used to link to and synthesise other data types – traits, descriptions, higher level taxonomy, occurrence and specimen data, dynamic maps and images. One of the goals of the LPWG is to collate information on legumes so that it is easily accessible and useful to researchers and other users around the world. In a 2019 publication the legume community expressed the need for an online portal for the family which would encompass richer data sets from multiple partners using a sound species checklist and benefitting from knowledge held by the LPWG.

Join the Working Group

If you would like to participate in this endeavour and share your taxonomic expertise, please contact Anne Bruneau or Marianne le Roux.

The list of genera that must still be verified is available here. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you are able to contribute!

Further reading: Bruneau, A., Borges, L.M., Allkin, R., Egan, A.N., De la Estrella, M., Javadi, F., Klitgaard, B., Miller, J.T., Murphy, D.J., Sinou, C., Vatanparast, M. & Zhang, R. 2019. Towards a new online species-information system for legumes. Australian Systematic Botany 32: 495–518. Link