Pod shape

The shape of mature pods (i.e. bearing ripe seeds) in plan (or outline). Note that the description of pod shape is at best approximate, given that there exists a full range of variation between each idealised shape (e.g. ovate may approximate orbicular, oblong or linear), making interpretations somewhat subjective. Further complications arise from variation between individuals of a taxon or within an individual specimen. Immature pods may differ in shape from mature ones. Users should take a relatively broad interpretation of pod shape, and enter the most commonly observed condition(s).

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Very narrow in relation to length (length:width ratio greater than 10-15) and sides roughly parallel (e.g. Lotus australis).


Longer than wide by a few to several times (length:width ratio up to 10) and with sides parallel or almost so (e.g. Tephrosia rosea).


Oval in shape, symmetrical about the middle, i.e. like a squashed circle (e.g. Castanospermum australe).


Round in shape, or nearly so (e.g. Gompholobium aristatum).


Shaped like a longitudinal section through an egg and broader below the middle, i.e. towards the point of attachment (e.g. Chorizema cytisoides).


Shaped like a longitudinal section through an egg and broader above the middle, i.e. away from the point of attachment (e.g. Swainsona affinis).


Three angled, as in Daviesia villifera.


With regular constrictions along its length, i.e. like a string of beads (e.g. Sophora tomentosa).

Transversely jointed

With joins between the seeds, i.e. splitting into indehiscent segments (e.g. Cajanus aromaticus).

Constricted along one margin

With constrictions along one margin, the other margin more or less entire (splitting into usually indehiscent segments (e.g. Aeschynomene americana).


Shapes that do not readily fit into one of the above categories. Examples include strongly coiled pods such as Medicago polymorpha, and ‘lunate’ (cresent shaped) pods such as Astragalus hamosus.