Lepidium L.


Greek lepis—scale, in reference to the scale-like fruits.

Annual biennial or perennial herbs or shrubs. Leaves large and mostly divided at the base, becoming smaller up the stem and entire or toothed. Flowers in clusters, petals sometimes reduced or absent; stamens 6, 4 or 2. Ovary occasionally stalked (gynophore). Fruit a dehiscent silicula, notched at the tip (with the style remaining) and flattened at right angles to the septum, the valves ridged and mostly winged; seeds 1 per chamber.

Grown occasionally in herb gardens as the annual Garden Cress, Lepidium sativum L. from Egypt and W Asia, differing from other species in having stalked upper leaves.

Used as a salad plant — the 'cress' of 'mustard and cress'.

Fruit dehiscent with 1 seed per chamber, a narrow septum (dividing the fruit across the narrow axis) and ridged valves.

About 150 species, cosmopolitan (Australia has about 35 native species and 8 species naturalised).

Source: Spencer, R. (1997). Brassicaceae. In: Spencer, R.. Horticultural Flora of South-eastern Australia. Volume 2. Flowering plants. Dicotyledons. Part 1. The identification of garden and cultivated plants. University of New South Wales Press.

kingdom Plantae
phylum   Tracheophyta
class    Magnoliopsida
superorder     Rosanae
order      Brassicales
family       Brassicaceae