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©Copyright 1993 by the Regents of the University of California

  • Up-to-date information about California vascular plants is available from the Jepson eFlora.



Reed C. Rollins, except as specified

Annual to subshrub
Leaves generally basal and cauline, alternate, generally simple; stipules 0
Inflorescence: generally raceme
Flower bisexual; sepals 4, free; petals (0)4, free, generally white or yellow, often clawed; stamens generally (2,4)6, generally 4 long, 2 short; ovary 1, superior, chambers generally 2, septum membranous, connecting 2 parietal placentas, style 1, stigma simple or 2-lobed
Fruit: generally capsule ("silique") with 2 deciduous valves, sometimes breaking transversely or indehiscent
Seeds 1–many per chamber
Genera in family: 300+ genera, 3000+ species: worldwide, especially cool regions; some cultivated for food (especially Brassica, Raphanus ) and ornamental
Recent taxonomic note: Recently treated to include Capparaceae [Rodman et al. 1993 Ann Missouri Bot Gard 80:686–699; Rollins 1993 Cruciferae of Continental North America. Stanford Univ Press]
Family description, key to genera by Robert A. Price.



Robert A. Price

Annual to subshrub; hairs appressed, forked to many-branched
Leaves in basal rosettes and cauline, simple, entire to lobed
Flower: petals clawed, generally cream to orange; stigma 2-lobed
Fruit narrow, round, 4-sided, or ± flattened (generally parallel to septum); style 0.2–5 mm
Seeds 1–2 rows per chamber, 1–4 mm, often ± winged
Species in genus: 160+ species: temp n hemisphere, especially Eurasia
Etymology: (Greek: to help, from medicinal uses)
Reference: [Rossbach 1958 Madroño 14:261–267]
Incl Cheiranthus ; native CA taxa all related to E. capitatum.


E. capitatum (Hook.) Greene


Biennial or short-lived perennial herb
Stems 1–few, 0.5–100+ cm
Leaves ± linear to spoon-shaped, entire to toothed; tip generally acute; lower ± 2–25 cm; hairs 2–several-branched
Flower: petals 12–30 mm, generally orange to yellow (cream to reddish)
Fruit generally ascending, 3–15 cm, 1–4 mm wide, slightly fleshy when immature, ± 4-sided or slightly flattened when mature; style 0.2–5 mm
Seed 1–4 mm, 0.7–2 mm wide; wing generally 0 or at tip, rarely along sides
Chromosomes: n=18
Ecology: Common. Many habitats, generally inland
Elevation: 0–4000 m.
Bioregional distribution: California (except Great Central Valley)
Distribution outside California: to east-central US
Highly variable, with many intergrading local variants.


var. angustatum (Greene) Rossbach


Caudex often elongate
Leaves narrowly lanceolate, dentate; hairs generally 2-branched; lower (6)10–20 cm
Flower: petals yellow or yellow-orange
Fruit stiffly ascending, ± 4-sided, ± straight
Ecology: Dunes
Elevation: < 20 m.
Bioregional distribution: ne Central Coast (Antioch Dunes, Contra Costa Co.)
Synonyms: var. a. (Greene) Rossbach
Horticultural information: In cultivation.

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