Herbs [subshrubs] , annual, biennial, or perennial. Stems erect to ascending (ribs longitudinally marked), simple or branched (usually distally). Leaves: usually rosulate; alternate; usually petiolate (sometimes cauline subsessile); petiole (slender) much shorter than blade, sometimes winged; blade margins entire, pinnatisect, or lobed, lobes 1-11(-15) on each side. Inflorescences racemes (sometimes lateral from distal axils). Pedicels present (sometimes only 1 mm). Flowers: (rarely almost actinomorphic) sepals persistent or deciduous, 4-6[-8], basally connate (alternating with petals [sometimes accrescent]), usually unequal (adaxial larger); petals 4-6[-8], distinct or basally connate, margins usually incised, sometimes entire; intrastaminal nectary-discs present; stamens [7-]10-40; filaments persistent or deciduous, basally connate; ovaries [2-]3-4[-5]-carpelled (stigmatic teeth as many as carpels, placenta sometimes forked apically). Capsules erect or pendulous, angled, cylindric, ovoid-oblong, subglobose, or ovoid, walls membranous or chartaceous. Seeds (10-ca. 30) papillose, rugose, or smooth (sometimes with caruncles). x = 5, 6, [7, 8].
Sep and pet each 4-8, commonly 5 or 6, the sep nearly equal, the pet unequal, at least the larger generally consisting of a rounded to oblong, flattened or concave base, bearing on its back one or more projecting appendages (seldom the pet merely fringed- cleft); upper pet the largest, the lateral and lower progressively smaller, with simpler appendages; stamens 10-25, subtended on the upper side by a large, rounded disk; carpels mostly 3 or 4; ours all herbs with dense terminal racemes of whitish to greenish or yellow fls ca 6 mm wide, in summer. 55, Eurasia, n. Afr.
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.