Annuals or biennials; (roots slender or fleshy, size, shape, and color variable in cultivated forms); not scapose; glabrous or pubescent. Stems erect, unbranched or branched. Leaves basal and cauline; petiolate or subsessile; basal not rosulate, petiolate, blade margins lyrately lobed or pinnatifid to pinnatisect; cauline shortly petiolate or subsessile, blade (base not auriculate), margins dentate or lobed, (smaller and fewer-lobed than basal). Racemes (corymbose, several-flowered), usually greatly elongated in fruit. Fruiting pedicels divaricate, ascending, or spreading [reflexed]. Flowers: sepals erect, narrowly oblong [linear], lateral pair slightly saccate basally; petals white, creamy white, yellow, pink, or purple [lilac] (usually with darker veins), broadly obovate [suborbicular], claw differentiated from blade, (± longer than sepals, apex obtuse or emarginate [rounded]); stamens strongly tetradynamous; filaments not dilated basally; anthers oblong or oblong-linear, (apex obtuse); nectar glands (4), median pair present. Fruits siliques or silicles, indehiscent, sessile, segments 2, (lomentaceous, often breaking into 1-seeded units), cylindrical, fusiform, lanceolate, or ovoid, [linear, oblong, ellipsoid], smooth or torulose to strongly moniliform, (constricted or not between seeds), terete or polygonal; (valvular segment seedless, rudimentary, or aborted, nearly as wide as pedicel; terminal segment several-seeded, corky); valves glabrous, antrorsely scabrous, or hispid; replum and septum not differentiated; ovules 2-22 per ovary; (style slender); stigma capitate, slightly 2-lobed. Seeds uniseriate, plump, not winged, oblong, ovoid, or globose [subglobose]; seed coat (nearly smooth to reticulate), not mucilaginous when wetted; cotyledons conduplicate. x = 9.
Sep erect, obtuse, somewhat saccate at base; pet large, yellow, pink- purple or white, broadly obovate, abruptly narrowed to the claw; ovary cylindric; style elongate, scarcely narrower than the ovary; stigma capitate; fr long-beaked, transversely divided into 2 members, the lower small and usually seedless or abortive, the upper indehiscent, its 2-10 large seeds in a single row, separated by constrictions or spongy cross-partitions; coarse annual or biennial herbs, with at least the lower lvs pinnatifid; pubescence of simple hairs. 3, w. Eurasia, Mediterranean.
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.