Capsella bursa-pastoris (Shepherd's Purse)

Plant Info
Also known as:
Family:Brassicaceae (Mustard)
Life cycle:annual
  • Weedy
Habitat:part shade, sun; roadsides, waste areas, fields, any disturbed soil
Bloom season:April - September
Plant height:4 to 30 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: FACU MW: FACU NCNE: FACU
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 4-petals Cluster type: raceme Cluster type: round

[photo of flowers] Flowers are in rounded clusters at the end of stems that arise from the leaf axils, and at the top of the plant. The stems elongate as the plant matures, with flowers blooming just at the end. Individual flowers are about ¼ inch across when fully open, with 4 rounded white petals and 6 greenish yellow stamens in a ring around a short yellowish style. A plant has a few to several flowering branches, depending on the ground conditions.

Leaves: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf attachment: basal Leaf type: lobed Leaf type: simple

[photo of stem leaves] There are both basal leaves and stem leaves. The stem leaves are widely spaced, narrowly arrowhead shaped, up to about 1 inch long and about ¼ inch wide, and stalkless. Leaf edges may be smooth or finely toothed, and are sometimes finely hairy. The 2 lobes at the leaf base vary in size.

[photo of basal leaves] The basal leaves are stalked, about 4 inches long, up to 1 inch wide, and deeply lobed, the lobes pointed or rounded at the tip. Stems are erect to sprawling, variously hairy, and usually branched.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

[photo of fruit] Fruit is a distinctive flattened triangular to heart-shaped pod about ¼ inch long. Each side contains about 20 seeds.


Shepherd's Purse is a weedy plant that invades lawns, gardens, and many other places where there is soil disturbance. The flowers of Shepherd's Purse are not very distinctive, but the seed pods make this plant easy to identify.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken at Long Lake Regional Park, Ramsey County. Other photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk.


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Sonja - McGrath
on: 2010-12-10 12:01:34

On the road sides...

Posted by: Kate - Olmsted Cnty
on: 2012-05-06 13:43:16

seen at Chester Woods park 29Apr2012

Posted by: Rich - New Ulm, Brown County
on: 2016-05-06 18:50:25

Built new house last year and back yard has many, particularly on steep slope

Posted by: Shawn Simonson - LAKE CRYSTAL
on: 2019-05-08 07:56:40

Growing in my pasture and along the road bordering pasture.

Posted by: Lisa Hoene - Edina
on: 2024-05-06 16:32:04

Found in our yard, after road construction. Not sure what the contractor used to reseed the impacted areas, but we have a lot of it next to the street.

Posted by: Kelli - Shoreview
on: 2024-05-08 18:44:23

Found a few plants in front and backyard. Haven't noticed it prior to this year.

Posted by: Chelsea - Cottage Grove
on: 2024-05-10 12:00:29

My backyard is absolutely ravaged with these and we've never noticed them until this year

Posted by: Kenneth Kieck - Mpls
on: 2024-05-23 10:45:48

Back yard garden plot, probably should always pull and discard to minimize spread? They have ornamental value but also have detrimental impacts when it comes to nematode ecosystem?

Posted by: Andy - Minneapolis
on: 2024-06-14 06:32:28

Popped up in my yard in a full sun, disturbed soil area. I would have overlooked it, but the heart-shaped pods are peculiar and got my attention. Happy to pull it out.

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