Advert

Leguminous plants

The common birdsfoot trefoil, known in Maltese as qrempuċ tal-mogħoż.

The common birdsfoot trefoil, known in Maltese as qrempuċ tal-mogħoż.

The common birdsfoot trefoil, known in Maltese as qrempuċ tal-mogħoż, is an annual plant that produces small, yellow flowers in winter and spring.

It belongs to the leguminous family in which we also find important members such as beans, peas and sulla (silla), as well as a large number of indigenous and alien wild plants.

Leguminous plants are found on all continents, except on Antarctica, and in most terrestrial habitats. The family consists of about 19,400 species; nearly 110 of these have been recorded in the Maltese islands.

Legumes have been utilised by man since the earliest times. Common and broad beans have been cultivated for nearly 8,000 years in Europe, Asia and in the Americas.

The flowers of the typical legume develop into a simple fruit known as a legume (miżwet). When mature, the dry legume splits open along a line of weakness to release the seeds. Beans and pea pods are typical legumes.

Leguminous plants are also well known for being able to utilise atmospheric nitrogen. They do this by forming a symbiotic relationship with nitrogen-fixing bacteria which live in structures known as root nodules.

The bacteria convert the nitrogen into compounds which can be utilised by the plants. The availability of a good source of nitrogen compounds allows leguminous plants to synthesise amino acids which are the building blocks of proteins, making leguminous plants a good source of proteins.

Furthermore, when leguminous plants die and decompose, their nitrogen compounds enrich the soil and become important components of crop rotation systems.

In crop rotation, farmers alternate non-legumes with leguminous plants. A typical rotation in Malta would be a crop of potatoes, followed by onions and then sulla.

Crop rotation was widely practised in the past but nowadays farmers prefer to use synthetic fertilisers which sometimes cause more harm than good.

[email protected]

Advert

Comments are submitted under the express understanding and condition that the editor may, and is authorised to, disclose any/all of the above personal information to any person or entity requesting the information for the purposes of legal action on grounds that such person or entity is aggrieved by any comment so submitted.

At this time your comment will not be displayed immediately upon posting. Please allow some time for your comment to be moderated before it is displayed.

For more details please see our Comments Policy

Comments not loading? We recommend using Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox with javascript turned on.
Comments powered by Disqus
Advert
Advert