Shepherd's Purse

Shepherd’s Purse
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Shepherd’s Purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris) is originally from Europe, but has become very common in many parts of the world. Its name derives from Latin and means “little box”, “purse of the shepherd”. This name refers to the capsule in the shape of a shepherd’s purse, which is also its common name.

Shepherd’s Purse grows in gardens, lots, fields, waste grounds, and embankments with soils that are not too dry and that provide enough sunshine.

This is rather a small plant, growing to 6-20 cm high. Its fine stalks spread along the main stem. The basal leaves are lanceolate and dentate. The white flowers are arranged in loose racemes. They are radially symmetrical with four petals.

What makes this plant so special is its seed capsule. This heart-shaped fruit is a flat and triangular pod. It is attached to the stalk by its pointed end, projecting erect.

The seeds of this plant give off a viscous compound when moistened. Aquatic insects stick to it and eventually die. This can be used as a mosquito control method, killing off the mosquito larvae, and makes it a borderline carnivorous plant.

The seeds, leaves, and root of this plant are edible. In China, it is commercially grown for consumption. “Stir-fried Shepherd’s Purse leaves” is considered a local delicacy. Medicinally, it has been used to stop bleeding.


Some images of Shepherd’s Purse