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Capsella bursa-pastoris

Common Name(s):

Previously known as:

  • Bursa abscissa
  • Bursa druceana
  • Capsella concava
  • Thlaspi bursa-pastoris
Phonetic Spelling
kap-SEL-luh BUR-suh PAS-tor-is
Description

Shepard's purse is a common annual garden weed in the mustard family. It can be found growing in any cultivated soil and most lighting situations with the exception of deep shade.  It is self-fertile, spreads easily.

It has been said that the seed attracts mosquitoes when placed in water.  It produces a gummy substance that binds the mosquitoes' mouth to the seed.  Seeds also emit a toxic substance to the larvae.  

When grown on salty/marshy land, it will absorb the salt and sweeten the soil.

The leaves, seeds and flowering shoots are edible, raw or cooked.  Prior to flowering, young leaves can be added to salads.  The seeds can be ground and used for flavoring in soups.  Fresh or dried root can be a substitute for ginger. 

Insects, Diseases and Other Plant Problems:  Persons with high blood pressure, thyroid disorders, heart disease, or pregnant should avoid this plant.  Toxicity may cause sedation, pupil enlargement, and breathing difficulties.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#weed#weedy#winter annual weed#annual weed#cool season weed
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#weed#weedy#winter annual weed#annual weed#cool season weed
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Capsella
    Species:
    bursa-pastoris
    Family:
    Brassicaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    Young leaves can be used in salads and have a mild, peppery taste. The leaves are often used in tradtional Chinese cuisine. This plant is also rich in vitamin-K and has been used to treat nosebleeds and hemmorrhages.
    Life Cycle:
    Annual
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Eurasia, Africa
    Distribution:
    Worldwide
    Wildlife Value:
    Attracts wildlife.
    Edibility:
    The leaves are edible.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Annual
    Weed
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Erect
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Dappled Sunlight (Shade through upper canopy all day)
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Occasionally Dry
    Occasionally Wet
    Available Space To Plant:
    Less than 12 inches
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    6a, 6b, 7b, 7a, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b, 10b, 10a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Description:
    Triangular fruits look like purses.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Raceme
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Shape:
    Star
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Flowers consist of 4 white petals and are about 3mm wide (1/8")
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Glossy
    Smooth
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Rosulate
    Leaf Shape:
    Elliptical
    Lanceolate
    Leaf Margin:
    Lobed
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Description:
    Basal leaves have smooth edges when young becoming pinnately lobed as they mature. Basal rosettes can be up to 9" wide. Flowering stalks have alternate leaves that are also pinnately lobed, which also clasp to the stem.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
  • Landscape:
    Problems:
    Weedy