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Published In: Histoire Naturelle des Îles Canaries 3(2,1): 72–73. 1836. (Nov 1836) (Hist. Nat. Îles Canaries) Name publication detailView in Biodiversity Heritage Library

Project Name Data (Last Modified On 8/11/2017)
Acceptance : Accepted

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16. Descurainia Webb & Berthel.

Plants annual or biennial (perennials or shrubs elsewhere), terrestrial, pubescent with short-stalked, branched hairs occasionally mixed with unbranched hairs and frequently also with stalked glands (less commonly nearly all of the hairs replaced with stalked glands). Stems erect, usually branched in the upper half. Leaves alternate and usually also a few basal at maturity, short-petiolate or sessile, not clasping, the lower leaves ovate to obovate or oblanceolate in outline, 1–3 times pinnately divided, with toothed, oblanceolate to linear leaflets and/or divisions, the upper leaves progressively reduced and less divided, ovate to lanceolate or linear in outline, 1 time pinnately compound or divided, the leaflets or divisions linear, toothed. Inflorescences racemes or less commonly panicles, the flowers often not subtended by bracts. Sepals lanceolate to elliptic or ovate, erect or ascending, green, often reddish-tinged. Petals not lobed, pale yellow to yellow or greenish yellow. Styles absent or less than 0.5 mm long. Fruits ascending to spreading, 4–30 times as long as wide, circular in cross-section or nearly so, dehiscent longitudinally. Seeds in 1 or 2 rows in each locule, 0.8–1.1 mm long, elliptic to narrowly ovate in outline, the margins not winged, the surface with a fine, netlike or honeycomb-like pattern of ridges and pits, orange to reddish brown. About 40 species, North America to South America, Europe, Asia, Africa.

The seeds of this genus have been used as a substitute for mustard seeds. Massive ingestion of the plants can poison livestock. The plants also have been used for various medicinal purposes.


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1 Fruits 5–10(–15) mm long, 1–2 mm wide, blunt or rounded at the tip; seeds at least in part in 2 rows in each locule; septum of the fruit not veined ... 1. D. PINNATA 1 Descurainia pinnata
+ Fruits (12–)15–25(–30) mm long, 0.5–1.2 mm wide, tapered and pointed at the tip; seeds in 1 row in each locule; septum of the fruit 2- or 3-veined ... 2. D. SOPHIA 2 Descurainia sophia
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