Capsella bursa-pastoris (Shepherd's Purse)

Plant Info
Also known as:
Genus:Capsella
Family:Brassicaceae (Mustard)
Life cycle:annual
Origin:Europe
Status:
  • 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.

Notes:

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.

Comments

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

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