Scientific Name: Capsella bursa-pastoris

Common Name: shepherd's purse

Synonyms: Bursa bursa-pastoris, Bursa bursa-pastoris var. bifida, Bursa gracilis, Capsella rubella, Thlaspi bursa-pastoris

Habit: An annual, most commonly a winter annual, weed. Seedlings have egg-shaped cotyledons measuring 2-5 to 5 mm long and 1-2 mm wide. Upright stems reach heights of 80 cm with several branches.

Leaves: Leaves come in several different shapes, sizes, and types on Shepard's purse. They can have no slight toothing, to deeply toothed or lobed. This species also has leaves in two different arrangements; lower leaves are in a rosette, while upper leaves are alternate in arrangement. Leaves at the base can be 3 to 15 cm long and up to 4 cm wide and are clasping around the stem. Leaves are mostly hairless but lower sides may contain some hairs.

Identifying Characteristics: Wavy to deeply lobed leaves, white flowers, and triangular shaped pods with a notch on top are characteristic of this plant. Shepard's purse serves as a home to several fungi that attack cole crops i.e. turnip, and cabbage. This species is also host to a large number of viral diseases including: tobacco mosaic virus, beet yellow, cabbage black ring spot, cabbage ring necrosis, beet mosaic, beet ring spot, aster yellows, beet curly top, beet mosaic, cauliflower mosaic, cucumber mosaic, and radish mosaic.

Flower Seed Head: Flowers are made up of 4 petals and 4 sepals, are white in color, and measure 4-8 mm across and 2-4 mm long.

Seed Fruit: Triangle shaped pods appear on the elongating stem, which reaches its full length as the pods mature. Seed pod is 5-8 mm long and contains two chambers, each with 10 to 20 seeds.

Where Found: All over the United States and Canada this species is a major pest in row crops, cultivated fields, nursery, and vegetable crops as well as gardens. Shepard's purse is often found in waste areas and other disturbed soils

  • Life cycle: winter annual

  • Milky sap: Not Present

  • Plant type: Herb

  • Thorns: Not Present

  • Plant family: Brassicaceae

  • Leaf arrangement: alternate; rosette

  • Leaf shape: triangle; heart

  • Ochrea: Not Present

  • Leaf margin: entire; serrated; lobed

  • Stem hairs: no hairs; has hairs

  • Flower color: white

  • Growth habit: upright and nonwoody

  • Stem: round or oval

  • Leaf structure: simple

  • Leaf hairs: no hairs; has hairs

  • Flower symmetry: not symmetrical

  • Flower diameter: pencil

  • Root structure: taproot

  • Leaf stalk: none