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Key to families | Table of families and genera

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Ihsan A. Al-Shehbaz, except as noted

Annual to shrub; sap pungent, watery. Leaf: generally simple, alternate; generally both basal, cauline; stipules 0. Inflorescence: generally raceme, generally not bracted. Flower: bisexual, generally radial; sepals 4, generally free; petals (0)4, forming a cross, generally white or yellow to purple; stamens generally 6 (2 or 4), 4 long, 2 short (3 pairs of unequal length); ovary 1, superior, generally 2-chambered with septum connecting 2 parietal placentas; style 1, stigma entire or 2-lobed. Fruit: capsule, generally 2-valved, "silique" (length >= 3 × width) or "silicle" (length < 3 × width), dehiscent by 2 valves or indehiscent, cylindric or flat parallel or perpendicular to septum, segmented or not. Seed: 1–many, in 1 or 2 rows per chamber, winged or wingless; embryo strongly curved.
± 330 genera, 3780 species: worldwide, especially temperate. [Al-Shehbaz et al. 2006 Plant Syst Evol 259:89–120] Highest diversity in Mediterranean area, mountains of southwestern Asia, adjacent central Asia, western North America; some Brassica species are oil or vegetable crops; Arabidopsis thaliana used in experimental molecular biology; many species are ornamentals, weeds. Aurinia saxatilis (L.) Desvaux in cultivation only. Aubrieta occasional waif in central North Coast Ranges, Carrichtera annua (L.) DC. in South Coast, Iberis sempervirens L., Iberis umbellata L. in Peninsular Ranges, Teesdalia coronopifolia (Bergeret) Thell., Teesdalia nudicaulis (L.) W.T. Aiton in southern Outer North Coast Ranges, Central Coast. Cardaria, Coronopus moved to Lepidium; Caulostramina to Hesperidanthus; Guillenia to Caulanthus; Heterodraba to Athysanus; California taxa of Lesquerella to Physaria; Malcolmia africana to Strigosella. —Scientific Editors: Douglas H. Goldman, Bruce G. Baldwin.

Key to Brassicaceae

Annual, biennial (perennial herb); hairs minute, many-branched, tree-like, occasionally mixed with fewer simple hairs, club-shaped glandular papillae occasionally present. Stem: generally branched distally. Leaf: petioled, finely 1–3-pinnately lobed or divided, basal generally early-deciduous; cauline similar to basal, less divided distally on stem, base not lobed. Inflorescence: elongating. Flower: sepals erect to spreading, base not sac-like; petals obovate, yellow [± white]. Fruit: silique or silicle, dehiscent, linear, oblong, club-shaped, ellipsoid, or obovoid, not flattened, unsegmented; stigma entire. Seed: 5–100, in 1 or 2 rows, ellipsoid to oblong, plump; wing 0.
45–47 species: Eurasia, especially North America and South America, Canary Islands. (F. Descourain, French botanist, 1658–1740) May be TOXIC to livestock. [Detling 1939 Amer Midl Naturalist 22:481–520] Taxonomically difficult, most characters highly variable.
Unabridged note: A taxonomically difficult genus due to extensive variation and continuity in most characters. The extensive interspecific hybridization, polyploidy, fertility among species, weedy tendencies of hybrids and parents, and lack of reliable morphological characters make it difficult to delimit taxa. Numerous infraspecific taxa have been recognized, but without extensive cytological, molecular, and experimental studies, recognition of narrowly defined taxa is neither practical nor useful.

Key to Descurainia

D. pinnata (Walter) Britton
Annual, sparsely to densely hairy, ± green or canescent, glandular or not (glabrous distally). Stem: (0.8)1.3–5.7(9.2) dm, simple or branched distally, proximally, or throughout. Leaf: basal, proximal cauline 1–15 cm, 1- or 2-pinnately lobed, oblanceolate or oblong to ovate in outline; lateral lobes 4–9 pairs, dentate to pinnately lobed; ultimate lobes oblanceolate to ovate, entire or dentate; distal cauline sessile or short-petioled, lobes generally narrower. Flower: petals, bright yellow to cream. Fruit: 4–13(17) mm, 1.2–2.2 mm wide, club-shaped (broadly linear, widest distally); valves with prominent midvein, glabrous; style to 0.2 mm, generally ± absent; pedicel ascending to spreading or ± descending, 4–23 mm, straight or curved. Seed: 16–40, 0.6–0.9 mm, in 2 rows per chamber, oblong. Descurainia pinnata subsp. halictorum (Cockerell) Detling, Descurainia pinnata subsp. intermedia (Rydb.) Detling, Descurainia pinnata subsp. menziesii (DC.) Detling represent a heterogeneous mixture of intermediates within Descurainia pinnata and its hybrids with other species. [Online Interchange]

D. pinnata subsp. ochroleuca (Wooton) Detling
Plant nonglandular (glandular), densely canescent. Inflorescence: densely hairy; pedicels spreading to ascending, forming 30–60° angle, (4)6–12 mm. Flower: sepals 1–2 mm, purple or ± pink; petals 1.5–2 mm, 0.3–0.5 mm wide.
Gravelly hills, desert grassland, roadsides; 200–2400 m. se California; to Texas, northern Mexico. Mar–May [Online Interchange]

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Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2013. Jepson eFlora,, accessed on Nov 30 2015
Citation for this treatment: [Author of taxon treatment] 2013. Descurainia, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on Nov 30 2015

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Geographic subdivisions indicated for the distribution of Descurainia pinnata subsp. ochroleuca Markers link to CCH specimen records. If the markers are obscured, reload the page [or change window size and reload]. Yellow markers indicate records that may provide evidence for eFlora range revision or may have georeferencing or identification issues.
map of distribution 1
(Note: any qualifiers in the taxon distribution description, such as 'northern', 'southern', 'adjacent' etc., are not reflected in the map above, and in some cases indication of a taxon in a subdivision is based on a single collection or author-verified occurence).

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Data provided by the participants of the Consortium of California Herbaria.
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CCH collections by month

Duplicates counted once; synonyms included.
Species do not include records of infraspecific taxa.
Blue line denotes eFlora flowering time.