Taxonomy of Soybean Relatives

The soybean is a papilionoid legume (family Fabaceae, subfamily Faboideae), and a member of the tribe Phaseoleae, subtribe Glycininae. The sub-tribe to which soybean belongs consists of 16 genera, none of which, except soybean (Glycine) and kudzu (Pueraria), are commonly known outside of botanical science. The genus Glycine is unique within the subtribe on several morphological and chromosomal characters, and does not seem to bear an especially intimate relationship with any other genus in the subtribe. A single exception may be the genus Sinodolichos, a rarely collected and poorly known genus from Asia. Sinodolichos is unknown in the living state outside of Asia.

The genus Glycine is divided into two questionably distinct subgenera: Glycine and Soia. The first consists of six or seven perennial species primarily from Australia. The second consists of three annual species from Asia: Glycine max, Glycine soia Sieb. & Zucc., and Glycine gracilis Skvortz. The first species is the cultivated soybean, the second species is the wild form of the soybean, and the third species is the weedy form of the soybean.

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