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There are thousands of plants whose seed pods split open down both seams when ripe, and it is these seed pods that are known as legumes. Some of the most common include beans, peas, soya beans (pictured) and lentils, as well as vetches, alfalfa, tamarind, carob and peanuts (pictured). Legumes provide much of the world’s staple protein and they play an important role in vegetarian diets. When dried, the seeds of legumes are referred to as pulses.