The membersof sub family Papilionaceae are herbs, shrubs or trees found in all climates but mostly between and near the tropics and are more abundant in the old than in the New World. The family includes the greatest number of Legumes, comparising 400 genera with about 7000 species. It is an extremely important family and its members yield nutritious food, fiber,shelter, valuable medicines and also virulent poisons (Datta and Kumar ,1985).
Cassia fistula belonging to Leguminosae family, is widely used for its medicinal properties, its main property being that of a mild laxative suitable for children and pregnant women. It is also a purgative due to the wax aloin and a tonic (Satyavati and Sharma, 1989) and has been reported to treat many other intestinal disorders like healing ulcers (Biswas et al.,1973; Kirtikar and Basu, 1975). The plant has a high therapeutic value and it exerts an antipyretic and analgesic effect (Patel et al., 1965). Besides, ithas been found to exhibit antinflammatory and hypoglycaemic activity (Datta and Kumar, 1985). In the Indian literature, this plant has been described to be useful against skin diseases, liver troubles, tuberculous glands and its use in the treatment of haematemesis, pruritus, leucoderm and diabetes has been suggested (Alam et al., 1990; Asolkar et al., 1992). C. fistula extractis used as an anti-periodic agent and in the treatment of rheumatism (Biswas etal., 1973; Kirtikar and Basu, 1975) and the leaf extract is also indicated forits anti-tussive and wound healing properties.
Some of the important genera are Abrus sp., Alhagi sp., Arachis sp., Butea sp., Cajanus sp., Cicer sp., Derris sp., Glycine sp., Glycyrrhiza sp., Medicago sp., Pisum sp., Phaselous sp., Psoralea sp., Sesbaniasp., Tephrosia sp., Vicia sp. and Vigna sp.
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