This perennial plant is 0.5 to 2 feet long, branching occasionally in the upper half. The lower stem of this plant has a tendency to sprawl along the ground in the absence of supportive vegetative, otherwise it is more or less erect. Both the lower and upper stems are glabrous, angular, and somewhat succulent. The alternate leaves are up to 5 inches long and 2 inches across, becoming smaller as they ascend the stems. They are glabrous, pinnately lobed, and oblong-ovate or lanceolate-ovate in outline; the terminal lobe is often broader than the other lobes. The margins of these leaves are bluntly dentate, shallowly lobed, or undulate. The upper stems terminate in racemes of yellow flowers. These flowers bloom near the apex of the raceme, while the siliques on spreading pedicels develop below. Each flower is about 1/3 of an inch across when fully open, consisting of 4 yellow petals, 4 yellow green sepals, 6 stamens, and a pistil with a stout style. Each flower is replaced by a slender silique about 1/4 inch long on a slender pedicel about 1/3 inch long. Each silique is straight or slightly curved, terminating in a short beak; it contains several tiny seeds. The root system produces abundant rhizomes and vegetative offsets of the mother plant; sometimes a prostrate lower stem will form rootlets near the leaf axils on moist ground. This plant often forms colonies.
Habitats are disturbed wetlands, including muddy or grassy borders of ditches, soggy meadows in floodplain areas, and poorly drained areas along railroads. The blooming period occurs from early to mid-summer and lasts about 1.5 months.