Shepherd's Purse


shepherd's-bag, pepper plant, case weed, pick-purse, St. James weed, mother's heart, witches'-pouches, toothwart, shovel-plant

Capsella bursa-pastoris

Shepherd's purse is a winter annual with a basal rosette of lobed leaves and a long flowering stalk. Leaves become more deeply lobed as they mature. Due to extremely long-lived seeds and an affinity for disturbed soil, it is most often a weed of new seedings established between mid-August and the end of September. Shepherd's purse flowers early in the spring. The white flowers are inconspicuous but the flat, heart-shaped seed capsules can persist until removed with a mower. Shepherd's purse will not persist in an established dense turf.

  • Crops Affected: turf


    Consistent mowing and patience are the key to managing shepherd's purse. Populations can seem overwhelming the first spring after establishment. However, it is unlikely that the shepherd's purse will be able to persist in future seasons as the turf density increases. In fairways it may be necessary to use a rotary mower to eliminate the flower stalks in the spring as they tend to lodge in front of the reel mower.

    Similar Species

    Shepherd's purse seedling may be confused with curly dock. However, the margins of curly dock remain entire (not lobed) and the leaf matures.