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Shepherd's Purse

(Capsella bursa-pastoris)

Related to the the same plant family as broccoli, cabbage, and mustard, Shepherd's Purse has been used all over the world as a food source for millennia. C bursa-pastoris is native to eastern Europe and Asia minor. It has become naturalized just about everywhere in the world.


Identifying characteristics:

A weedy herbaceous plant which grows from a basal rosette of deeply toothed leaves similar to those of dandelion, but without the white milky juice. The toothed leaves also grow perpendicular to the stem, unlike those of dandelion which grow toward the center of the plant. A crowded spike like cluster of four petaled flowers appears in late spring to early summer. The heart shaped seed pods, reminiscent of a purse, which is where the plant received it's common name, appear shortly after the flowers.


Disturbed soil, in un-mowed meadows and lawns, and along roadsides and trails.

Parts Used:

Young Leaves, Seed Pods


Wild Food Use:

Add young leaves to salads, or use as a cooked green. Older leaves become too bitter for msot people to tolerate. The seeds are said to have a peppery taste, and can be added to food as a peppery seasoning, but I have not tried this.

The following text is meant for informational purposes only. It is not meant to diagnose or treat any illness or injury. Always consult with a physician or other qualified medical care provider concerning the diagnosis and treatment of any illness or injury.

Medicinal Use:

Prior to World War I, it was used in mainstream medical practice in Britain and The United States as a remedy for uterine bleeding. C. bursa-pastoris today is considered by many herbalists to be one of the best herbs for stopping bleeding of any kind, both internally, and externally. Studies have shown it to be effective in the treatment of internal bleeding of the stomach, lungs, kidneys, and urinary tract It is a popular ingredient in many topical herbal preparations used to treat minor cuts and scrapes. It is often given to aid women who suffer from heavy menstrual bleeding and other uterine problems.

Medicinal Actions:

Emmenagogue, Haemostatic, Oxytocic, Uterine-Tonic

A field of Shepherd's Purse in flower.

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Revised: 05/11/16 Living Afield