At the Desert Legume Program (DELEP), we work to preserve the biodiversity of legumes from dry regions of the world. Fabaceae (Leguminosae) is the third largest family of vascular plants and is well-represented in the floras of dry regions. However, wild Fabaceae from dry regions are understudied in terms of their economic potential. As a group, legumes are second only to the cereal grains in their importance to humanity. Legumes are utilized in many ways including food crops, forage crops, green manure, forestry, sources of medicines and industrial compounds, for erosion control, for shade and shelter, and as landscape and amenity plants. Many species of legumes have the ability to convert atmospheric nitrogen into a plant-usable form through symbiosis with specialized bacteria on their roots.

Our Mission:

1. To acquire and preserve in perpetuity seed of legumes native to the arid and semiarid lands of the world;

2. To learn more about the nature and utility of these unique species;

3. To share this germplasm with professionals and laypersons have a legitimate interest; and

4. To aid in the preservation and conservation of desert legume biodiversity through both in situ and ex situ means.


DELEP serves individuals, businesses, academia, and government agencies in Arizona and across the world by providing seeds, plant material, and information. Samples of seeds from our seed bank may be requested by contacting DELEP directly, through the USDA-ARS GRIN, and through Botanic Gardens Conservation International. DELEP also maintains plots for field evaluations and seed production, and we are developing a demonstration garden at the UA Campus Agricultural Center.