Annual or perennial herbs, covered in dense, stellate and glandular hairs (in Australia). Leaves entire, scalloped or pinnately lobed. Inflorescence a raceme. Sepals erect, inner pair usually saccate; petals long-clawed, purple, pink or white; stamens 6, spreading. Fruit pedicellate (sometimes shortly so), linear, elongate (more than 3 times as long as broad), dehiscent; stigma sessile, bilobed, each lobe erect with a dorsal swelling or horn-like extension; valves convex or compressed, with conspicuous midvein, pubescent; seeds in 1 row per locule, compressed, winged (in Australia).
55 species from the Atlantic islands, Europe, central Asia and South Africa; 2 species naturalised in Australia.
Matthiola is characterized by its dense covering of stellate hairs and the large pink, purple or white flowers.