Any herbaceous plant of the genus Sisymbrium (family Brassicaceae), native to Eurasia and North Africa, including weeds of waste ground and arable land with leaves having a pungent taste and small white or yellow flowers; (also, in form Sisymbrium) the genus itself. In early use also: †any of various herbaceous plants with pungent or aromatic leaves, especially water mint, Mentha aquatica, and watercress, Nasturtium officinale (obsolete).
Valid publication of the genus name: Linnaeus Species Plantarum (1753) II. 657. The modern genus formerly also included watercress (Nasturtium officinale) and wall rocket (genus Diplotaxis). See also note at
Old English; earliest use found in Pseudo-Apuleius' Herbarium. From classical Latin sisymbrium a moisture-loving plant grown in gardens, probably a kind of mint, (also) watercress from ancient Greek σισύμβριον water mint, in Hellenistic Greek also watercress, of unknown origin.