Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Shepherd's-purse
Capsella bursa-pastoris

Family: Brassicaceae (brass-ih-KAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Capsella (kap-SEL-luh) (Info)
Species: bursa-pastoris (BUR-suh PAS-tor-is) (Info)

4 members have or want this plant for trade.


under 6 in. (15 cm)
6-12 in. (15-30 cm)
12-18 in. (30-45 cm)

3-6 in. (7-15 cm)

Not Applicable

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun
Sun to Partial Shade
Light Shade

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Color:
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Blooms all year


Other details:
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds
Self-sows freely; deadhead if you do not want volunteer seedlings next season

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall
From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:
Bag seedheads to capture ripening seed

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There are a total of 13 photos.
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2 positives
2 neutrals
2 negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Neutral raisedbedbob On Feb 7, 2006, raisedbedbob from Walkerton, VA (Zone 7a) wrote:

An invasive but useful plant for the wild food enthusiast. It can be used as a salad ingredient, a cooked green or a seasoning. Add the young leaves to salads or prepare like spinach before the flowers appear. Use the dried seedpods as a pepperlike seasoning.

Negative melody On Apr 7, 2005, melody from Benton, KY (Zone 7a) wrote:

An invasive little weed that seems to pop up is common throughout the US and Canada. Introduced from Europe...probably as a stow-away in baggage or clothing, it is now common throughout the world.

The common name Shepherds-purse comes from the seed capsules, which resemble their namesake. 'Capsella' means 'little box' and bursa-pastoris means 'purse of the shepherd.

Positive RobinH On Nov 3, 2004, RobinH from Onalaska, WI wrote:

Neat little plant, and, as with all plants, it is only as invasive as the grower allows it to be. Grows quite will here in Zone 4

Positive joz On Mar 6, 2003, joz wrote:

Very tasty vegetable, and productive. :)

Negative lupinelover On Jan 25, 2003, lupinelover from Grove City, OH (Zone 6a) wrote:

A very invasive weed, this plant is difficult to identify until it makes seedpods. The foliage can be from light green through almost black. Seeds germinate anytime the ground is not frozen, and it remains a rosette until flowering, persisting through the coldest winters.

Do not dispose of this plant after it starts to flower in a compost pile: it has the ability to finish ripening seed even in this condition.

Neutral Lilith On May 2, 2002, Lilith from Durham
United Kingdom (Zone 8a) wrote:

A widespread weed often found in gardens and waste places, distinguished by small, heart-shaped fruits. A preparation from the leaves has long been used against inflammation and bleeding, and is still found in some medicines.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Glendale, Arizona
Phoenix, Arizona
Clovis, California
San Diego, California
Aurora, Colorado
Benton, Kentucky
Valley Lee, Maryland
Cole Camp, Missouri
Millersburg, Pennsylvania
Clarksville, Texas
Dallas, Texas
De Leon, Texas
San Antonio, Texas
Syracuse, Utah
Artondale, Washington

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