The wood of a leguminous tree native to the Brazilian Atlantic Forest (Paubrasilia echinata) was used early on for dyeing fabrics and became known in Europe as brazilwood. These lands, initially named Vera Cruz, became named after this plant, Brazil.
Fabaceae, or Leguminosae, is one of the families with the greatest diversity and it is the most diverse in Brazil. In this country there are c. 200 genera and 2800 species native belonging to this plant group with wide economic importance. The fruit of these plants is always a pod and the seeds have great nutritional value, such as peas, beans, chickpeas, soybeans, and many others. Worldwide, these plants are used for many different purposes due to their extraordinary variety and abundance, from agriculture to medicine, including the wood industry.
In Brazil, the most widely cultivated species of economic importance are soybeans (Glycine max), “carioca” beans (Phaseolus vulgaris), Stylosanthes sp., Gliricidia sepium, Acacia sp., Crotalaria sp. Locally, there are many native species that are used in regional diets, for fooder, extraction of oils, resins, varnishes, flavourings, wood, and as green manure.