In this review we summarize recent advances in our understanding of phylogenetics, polyploidization and comparative genomics in the family Brassicaceae. These findings pave the way for a unified comparative genomic framework. We integrate several of these findings into a simple system of 24 conserved chromosomal blocks (labeled A-X). The naming, order, orientation and color-coding of these blocks are based on their positions in a proposed ancestral karyotype (n=8), rather than by their position in the reduced genome of Arabidopsis thaliana (n=5). We show how these crucifer building blocks can be rearranged to model the genome structures of A. thaliana, Arabidopsis lyrata, Capsella rubella and Brassica rapa. A framework for comparison between species is timely because several crucifer genome-sequencing projects are underway.