Shepherd’s purse

September 4, 2015

Capsella bursa-pastoris (L.) Medicus

Life cycle

Erect winter or summer annual.


Leaves initially develop from a basal rosette. Basal leaves are stalked and highly variable in shape; young leaves are first rounded and elongated, becoming variously lobed, toothed to wavy. Smaller stem leaves are alternate with smooth to toothed margins and clasping bases.

Shepherd's purse rosette
Shepherd’s purse rosette.


Erect, slender, hairy, up to 2-foot-tall stems bolt from a basal rosette to flower. Flower stems are usually unbranched with few to no leaves.

Flowers and fruit

White flowers with four small petals are found in terminal clusters. Fruit are distinctly heart-shaped to triangular pods found on elongated, unbranched stems.

Shepherd's purse fruit Shepherd's purse flower cluster
Shepherd’s purse fruit (left) and flowering cluster (right).



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