MUSTARD FAMILY - Cruciferae: Shepherd's Purse; Mother's Heart
Flowers--Small, white, in a long, loose raceme, followed by triangular and notched (somewhat heart-shaped) pods, the valves boat-shaped and keeled. Sepals and petals 4; stamens 6; 1 pistil. Stem: 6 to 18 in. high, from a deep root. Leaves: Forming a rosette at base, 2 to 5 in. long, more or less cut (pinnatifid), a few pointed, arrow-shaped leaves also scattered along stem and partly clasping it.
Preferred Habitat--Fields, roadsides, waste places.
Flowering Season--Almost throughout the year.
Distribution--Over nearly all parts of the earth.
From Europe this little low plant found its way, to become the commonest of our weeds, so completing its march around the globe. At a glance one knows it to be related to the alyssum and candytuft of our gardens, albeit a poor relation in spite of its vaunted purses--the tiny, heart-shaped seed-pods that so rapidly succeed the flowers. What is the secret of its successful march over the face of the earth? Like the equally triumphant chickweed, it is easily satisfied with unoccupied waste land, it avoids the fiercest competition for insect trade by prolonging its season of bloom far beyond that of any native flower, for there is not a month in the year when one may not find it even in New England in sheltered places.