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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.



Annual, biennial, rarely per; hairs generally minute, generally multibranched, fewer simple, some glandular
Stem branched
Leaves 1–many-pinnately lobed to compound; basal often rosetted but withering
Inflorescence elongating; bracts generally 0
Flower: petals < 3 mm, yellow or whitish, blades obovate, obtuse
Fruit linear to ± obovate, straight or uneven-margined, generally ± cylindric; style < 0.8 mm or 0, stigma generally head-like, entire
Seeds: 1–2 rows per chamber, generally < 1 mm, elliptic, plump, gelatinous when wet; wing 0; embryonic root at back of 1 cotyledon
Species in genus: ± 40 species: worldwide temp
Etymology: (F. Descourain, French botanist, 1658–1740)
Reference: [Detling 1939 Amer Midl Naturalist 22: 481–520]
Relationships, characters of species difficult. May be TOXIC to livestock.


D. pinnata (Walter) Britton

Annual; hairs sparse to dense, multibranched
Stem 1–7 dm; branches 0, below, or above
Leaves lanceolate or oblanceolate to ovate; lower cauline leaves 2-pinnately lobed; upper leaves 1–10 cm, ± 1–2-pinnately lobed or 1-compound; lobes or leaflets linear to widely obovate, hairs glandular or not
Flower: petals 1–3.5 mm, bright yellow to cream
Fruit 4–20 mm, oblong to ± club-shaped; pedicel ascending to spreading, 4–20 mm
Seeds 5–20 per chamber, 2 rows per chamber, 0.5–1 mm
Ecology: Washes, slopes, often saline soils
Elevation: < 2500 m.
Bioregional distribution: Cascade Range, s High Sierra Nevada, Great Central Valley, Central Coast, San Francisco Bay Area, South Coast Ranges, Southwestern California, Great Basin Floristic Province, Desert
Distribution outside California: widespread N.America
8 difficult subspp.

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