Bursa bursa-pastoris Capsella, a diminutive of capsa, a box.
Winter annual. Naturalized from Europe. Waste places, roadsides. World-wide. April-November.
Six to eighteen inches high.
Clustered in a rosette, incised or toothed.
Arrow-shaped, sessile, partly clasping.
Small white crucifers in a long, loose raceme at the summit of the flower-stem; stem lengthens as flowers bloom.
Triangular pod, somewhat heart-shaped.
Pollinated by flies; also capable of self-fertilization.
Shepherd's-Purse is a winter annual; that is, the seedlings come up in the autumn, brave the winter, and so are able to bloom in early spring. The plant shares with the Chickweed and the Dandelion the distinction of blooming late into the year. The Shepherd's-Purse blooms in April, and may often be found in fair condition in mild Decembers. The reason that a single stalk can thus grow and bloom for months together is due to the fact that all the blossoms are borne from the side of the stem and that the growing point at the summit never bears a blossom and can thus grow on indefinitely. Its tiny flowers have all the characteristics of the
Mustard family and its stem and leaves the pungent mustard taste. The common name is suggested by the little flat, triangular seed-pods. The plant is known among the English peasantry as Pickpocket and Pickpurse, because it sows itself and as a weed robs the farmer.
Shepherd's-Purse. Capsella bursa-pastoris