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(wintercress), a genus of biennial and perennial herbs of the family Cruciferae. The lower leaves are mostly ly-rate, and the upper ones are entire and amplexicaul. The flowers are yellow and have nectar glandules. The fruit is a linear fourangled pod.
There are about 20 species, distributed in the temperate zone of the northern hemisphere. Of the nine species found in the USSR, the most common are B. vulgaris and B. arcuata. Both species are common weeds of fields, gardens, and orchards; they also occur in meadows and pastures and along roads and bodies of water. As many as 10,000 seeds are produced by a single plant. The seeds are poisonous to domestic animals, including poultry. Poisoning occurs when the animals are fed grain by-products contaminated with wintercress seeds. Both B. vulgaris and B. arcuata yield a substantial amount of nectar; their young leaves are used in salad. The species B. verna is cultivated in Western Europe as a salad plant.