Description from Flora of China
Herbs, annual or perennial. Taproots fusiform. Stem erect. Basal leaves petiolate, sheaths ovate. Cauline leaves similar or heteromorphic to the basal, smaller or absent. Inflorescence branching or unbranched, branches bearing terminal umbels; bracts usually absent; rays 4–40, unequal, erect to ascending in flower, spreading widely and lengthening in fruit; bracteoles 1–4, linear-lanceolate, unequal; umbellules very few flowered, 2–3(–5)-flowered; pedicels extremely unequal. Calyx teeth evident triangular or subulate, subequal, sometimes obscure. Petals white or purplish, ovate or long-obovate, base attenuate and thickening near attachment, apex narrow, inflexed, rarely plane. Stylopodium either conic and long-tapering into elongate erect styles (styles usually twice as long as the stylopodium) or low-conic abruptly tapering into short, deflexed styles (shorter than or equal to the stylopodium). Fruit oblong-ovoid or ovoid, slightly laterally compressed, glabrous; ribs 5, denticulate, finely scabrid or filiform; vittae 1–3 in each furrow, 2–4 on the commissure. Seed face plane. Carpophore 2-parted or bifid.
The following species have been described from Chinese material, but are imperfectly known as no specimens have been seen or the specimens are inadequate.
Pternopetalum asplenioides (H. de Boissieu) Handel-Mazzetti (Symb. Sin. 7: 718. 1933; Cryptotaeniopsis asplenioides H. de Boissieu, Bull. Herb. Boissier, sér. 2, 2: 807. 1902), described from Chongqing (Chengkou, P. G. Farges s.n., holotype, P).
Pternopetalum mairei (Diels ex H. Wolff) Handel-Mazzetti (Symb. Sin. 7: 719. 1933; Cryptotaeniopsis mairei Diels ex H. Wolff in Engler, Pflanzenr. 90(IV. 228): 180. 1927; Carum mairei (Diels ex H. Wolff) M. Hiroe), described from NE Yunnan (Dongchuan, 2600 m, E. E. Maire 3652, holotype, B).
About 25 species: E Asia, Himalayan region; 23 species (19 endemic) in China.
(Authors: Pu Fading (溥发鼎 Pu Fa-ting); Loy R. Phillippe)