Lentil is hypogeal, which means the cotyledons of the germinating seed stay in the ground and inside the seed coat. Therefore, it is less vulnerable to frost, wind erosion, or insect attack.
The plant is a diploid, annual, bushy herb of erect, semierect, or spreading and compact growth and normally varies from 30 to 50 centimetres (12 to 20 in) in height. It has many hairy branches and its stem is slender and angular. The rachis bears 10 to 15 leaflets in five to eight pairs. The leaves are alternate, of oblong-linear and obtuse shape and from yellowish green to dark bluish green in colour. In general, the upper leaves are converted into tendrils, whereas the lower leaves are mucronate. If stipules are present, they are small. The flowers, one to four in number, are small, white, pink, purple, pale purple, or pale blue in colour. They arise from the axils of the leaves, on a slender footstalk almost as long as the leaves. The pods are oblong, slightly inflated, and about 1.5 centimetres (0.59 in) long. Normally, each of them contains two seeds, about 0.5 centimetres (0.20 in) in diameter, in the characteristic lens shape. The seeds can also be mottled and speckled. The several cultivated varieties of lentil differ in size, hairiness, and colour of the leaves, flowers, and seeds.
Lentils are self-pollinating. The flowering begins from the lowermost buds and gradually moves upward, so-called acropetal flowering. About two weeks are needed for all the flowers to open on the single branch. At the end of the second day and on the third day after the opening of the flowers, they close completely and the colour begins to fade. After three to four days, the setting of the pods takes place.
Masoor daal (unshelled lentils with a brown seed coat and an orange-red cotyledon)
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