A foetid, hairless annual plant, growing up to Template:Convert tall,<ref name=Stace/>Template:Rp with upright branches. The stem leaves are arrow-shaped, narrow and toothed. It blooms between May and July, with clusters of small white flowers. They have 4 sepals and 4 longer petals.<ref name=Readers>Template:Cite book</ref> Later it has round, flat, winged pods with a deep apical notch,<ref name=Stace>Template:Cite book</ref>Template:Rp measuring Template:Convertacross. They contain small brown-black seeds.<ref name=Readers/>
The common name 'penny cress' is derived from the shape of the seeds looking like an old English penny.<ref name=Readers/>
It is native to temperate regions of Eurasia, but is a naturalized introduced species throughout temperate North America and therefore has a circumpolar distribution. In the British Isles it is regarded as an archaeophyte (an ancient introduction).<ref name=BRCBSBI>Template:Cite web</ref>
Field pennycress is a weed of cultivated land and wasteland.<ref name=BRCBSBI/>
The field pennycress has a bitter taste; it is usually parboiled to remove the bitter taste. This is mostly used in salads, sometimes in sandwich spreads. It is said to have a distinctive flavour.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>
Use as a source of biodiesel
Pennycress is being developed as an oilseed crop for production of renewable fuels.<ref>Arvegenix LLC website</ref><ref>Field pennycress shows feedstock potential</ref> The species can be planted in the fall, will germinate and form a vegetative mass which can overwinter. In the spring, the oil-rich seed can be harvested and used as a biodiesel feedstock.
Pennycress is related to the model plant species Arabidopsis thaliana. Researchers have begun studying the genetics of pennycress in order to improve its potential use as a biofuel crop. For example, the transcriptome of pennycress has been sequenced.<ref>De novo assembly of the pennycress (Thlaspi arvense) transcriptome provides tools for the development of a winter cover crop and biodiesel feedstock. Kevin M. Dorn, Johnathon D. Fankhauser, Donald L. Wyse, M. David Marks. The Plant Journal. Template:Doi</ref>