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a genus of plants of the family Leguminosae. They are perennial and, occasionally, annual grasses, low shrubs, and subshrubs. The leaves are odd-pinnate and have stipules. The flowers are pink, purple, or violet, and, rarely, white or yellow; they grow in axillary racemose inflorescences. The fruit is a segmented pod with two to eight flat or slightly swollen segments containing one seed. (The shape led to the Russian name, kopelchnik, or kopeck-plant.)
There are about 150 species in the temperate, and, occasion-ally, the arctic zones of Eurasia, North Africa, and North America. In the USSR there are more than 100 species, primarily in southern regions, on dry rocky, steppe-like, and meadow slopes and in thickets. In the European USSR the most common species is Hedysarum grandiflorum; in Siberia, H. gmelinii; in the arctic, H. arcticum, which serves as food for reindeer; and in Yakutia, H. vicioides.