It is herbaceous perennial plant growing to 40-60 cm tall, with pinnate leaves 5-12 cm long with 3-15 leaflets, each leaflet about 1 cm long. The flowers are produced on a spike 10-30 cm long, each flower 1-2 cm diameter with four pale pink (rarely white) petals. It grows best close to water.
It is grown as an ornamental plant in gardens, and has as a result of cultivation become naturalised in North America. In some European countries the plant is now under threat (e.g. parts of Germany). It is a food plant for the orange tip butterfly (Anthocharis cardamines)and makes a valuable addition to any garden which aims at attracting wildlife.
It was once used as a substitute for Watercress.