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Royal Poinciana, Delonix regia
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Fabales
Family: Fabaceae
Subfamily: Caesalpinioideae
  • Caesalpiniaceae R. Brown
  • Cassiaceae Vest
  • Ceratoniaceae Link

Caesalpinioideae is a botanical name at the rank of subfamily, placed in the large family Fabaceae or Leguminosae. Its name is formed from the generic name Caesalpinia. It is known also as the peacock flower family.[1]

The Caesalpinioideae are mainly trees distributed in the moist tropics, but include such temperate species as the honeylocust (Gleditsia triacanthos), Kentucky coffeetree (Gymnocladus dioicus), and redbud (Cercis canadensis). Their flowers are zygomorphic, but are very variable. Nodulation is rare in this subfamily, and where it does occur, nodules have a primitive structure.

Because the Papilionoideae and Mimosoideae arose from within the Caesalpinioideae,[1] the Caesalpinioideae are paraphyletic. Therefore, they are likely to be split into several subfamilies, although it is not yet clear what those subfamilies should be.[1]

In some classifications, for example the Cronquist system, the group is recognized at the rank of family, Caesalpiniaceae.

The subfamily may be classified in four tribes, Caesalpinieae, Cassieae, Cercideae, and Detarieae. The tribe Cercideae has sometimes been included in the subfamily Faboideae (aka Papilionoideae) in the past.

Distinguishing characters:

  • Leaves usually paripinnate or binary
  • Flowers slightly irregular, zygomorphic
  • Ovary superior
  • Fruits dehiscent or indehiscent
  • Raceme inflorescence

The subfamily Caesalpinioideae contains 180 genera in all over the world.

Floral formula - % ○+ K(5)or5 C5 A10 G_

Tribe Caesalpinieae[edit]

Tribe Cassieae[edit]

Main article: Cassieae

Tribe Cercideae[edit]

Main article: Cercideae

Tribe Detarieae[edit]

Tamarind flowers
Main article: Detarieae

About 81 genera of predominantly African distribution.


Caesalpinioideae, as traditionally circumscribed, is paraphyletic. Several molecular phylogenies have shown that the other two subfamilies of Fabaceae (Faboideae and Mimosoideae) are both nested within Caesalpinioideae.[3][4][5]







Cercideae clade*

unnamed clade (Barnebydendron, Goniorrachis)*

unnamed clade (Schotia)*

resin-producing Detarieae clade

Prioria clade*

unnamed clade (Brandzeia, Daniella)*

Detarieae sensu stricto clade*

Amherstieae clade

Saraca clade*

Afzelia clade*


unnamed clade (Dicymbe, Polystemonanthus)*

unnamed clade (Crudia, Hymenostegia pro parte, Neochevalierodendron, Plagiosiphon, Scorodophloeus)*




unnamed clade (Cynometra, Maniltoa)*

unnamed clade (Hymenostegia pro parte, Leonardoxa, Loesenera, Talbotiella)*


unnamed clade (Cryptosepalum, Paramacrolobium)*

Brownea clade*

Berlinia clade*

Dialiinae clade*

Umtiza clade*

Caesalpinia clade*

Cassia clade*

Dimorphandra clade A*

Tachigali clade*

Peltophorum clade*

Dimorphandra group B*

Dimorphandra group B*



Asterisks (*) indicate clades traditionally assigned to Caesalpinioideae.


  1. ^ a b Martin F. Wojciechowski, Johanna Mahn, and Bruce Jones (2006). "Fabaceae". The Tree of Life Web Project. 
  2. ^ Some sources treat Lasiobema as a synonym of Phanera.
  3. ^ Bruneau A, Forest F, Herendeen PS, Klitgaard BB, Lewis GP (2001). "Phylogenetic Relationships in the Caesalpinioideae (Leguminosae) as Inferred from Chloroplast trnL Intron Sequences". Syst Bot 26 (3): 487–514. doi:10.1043/0363-6445-26.3.487. 
  4. ^ Bruneau A, Mercure M, Lewis GP, Herendeen PS. (2008). "Phylogenetic patterns and diversification in the caesalpinioid legumes". Botany 86 (7): 697–718. doi:10.1139/B08-058. 
  5. ^ Cardoso D, Pennington RT, de Queiroz LP, Boatwright JS, Van Wykd B-E, Wojciechowskie MF, Lavin M. (2013). "Reconstructing the deep-branching relationships of the papilionoid legumes". S. Afr. J. Bot. 89: 58–75. doi:10.1016/j.sajb.2013.05.001.