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Shepherd's Purse
Capsella bursa-pastoris plants
with flowers and fruits
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Brassicales
Family: Brassicaceae
Genus: Capsella
Species: C. bursa-pastoris
Binomial name
Capsella bursa-pastoris
(L.) Medik.
Capsella bursa-pastoris
Traditional Chinese 薺菜
Simplified Chinese 荠菜

Capsella bursa-pastoris, known by its common name shepherd's-purse because of its triangular, purse-like pods, is a small (up to 0.5m) annual and ruderal species, and a member of the Brassicaceae or mustard family. It is native to eastern Europe and Asia minor[1] but is naturalized and considered a common weed in many parts of the world, especially in colder climates,[2] including Britain, where it is regarded as an archaeophyte,[3][4] North America[5][6] and China[7] but also in the Mediterranean and North Africa.[1] Capsella bursa-pastoris is closely related to the model organism Arabidopsis thaliana and is also used as a model organism due to the variety of genes expressed throughout its life cycle that can be compared to genes that are well studied in A. thaliana. Unlike most flowering plants, it flowers almost all year round.[6] [7] Like many other annual ruderals exploiting disturbed ground, C. bursa-pastoris reproduces entirely from seed, has a long soil seed bank,[3] and short generation time[1] and is capable of producing several generations each year.



rosette (a), pointed leaves, flowers (c–e), pods (i, k)

C. bursa-pastoris plants grow from a rosette of lobed leaves at the base. From the base emerges a stem about 0.2 to 0.5 meters tall, which bears a few pointed leaves which partly grasp the stem. The flowers are white and small, in loose racemes, and produce seed pods which are heart-shaped.[6]

Like a number of other plants in several plant families, its seeds contain a substance known as mucilage, a condition known as myxospermy.[8] The adaptive value of myxospermy is unknown,[8] although the fact that mucilage becomes sticky when wet has led some to propose that C. bursa-pastoris traps insects which then provide nutrients to the seedling, which would make it protocarnivorous.[9]


C. bursa-pastoris is gathered from the wild[10] or grown[11] for food[11][7] to supplement animal feed,[10] for cosmetics,[10] and for medicinal purposes.[7][10] It is commonly used as food in Shanghai and the surrounding Jiangnan region as food, where they are stir-fried with rice cakes and other ingredients or as part of the filling in wontons. It is one of the ingredients of the symbolic dish consumed in the Japanese spring-time festival, Nanakusa-no-sekku.

Herbally, it is primarily used to stop vaginal bleeding, an action which may be attributable to the common parasitic fungus found with it, which is related to the vasoconstrictor ergot.



  1. ^ a b c Aksoy A, Dixon JM and Hale WH (1998) Biological flora of the British Isles. Capsella bursa-pastoris (L.) Medikus (Thlaspi bursapastoris L., Bursa bursa-pastoris (L.) Shull, Bursa pastoris (L.) Weber). Journal of Ecology 86: 171-186
  2. ^ "Capsella bursa-pastoris". Flora of Pakistan.  
  3. ^ a b Preston CD, Pearman DA & Dines TD (2002) New Atlas of the British Flora. Oxford University Press
  4. ^ Preston CD, Pearman DA & Hall AR(2004) Archaeophytes in Britain. Botanical Journal of the Linnaean Society 145, 257-294
  5. ^ USDA PLANTS Profile: Capsella bursa-pastoris (L.) Medik
  6. ^ a b c Blanchan, Neltje (2005). Wild Flowers Worth Knowing. Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation.  
  7. ^ a b c d "Capsella bursa-pastoris". Flora of China.  
  8. ^ a b Tamara L. Western, Debra J. Skinner, and George W. Haughn (February 2000). "Differentiation of Mucilage Secretory Cells of the Arabidopsis Seed Coat". Plant Physiology 122 (2): 345–355. doi:10.1104/pp.122.2.345. PMID 10677428.  
  9. ^ Barber, J.T. (1978). "Capsella bursa-pastoris seeds: Are they "carnivorous"?". Carnivorous Plant Newsletter 7 (2): 39–42.  
  10. ^ a b c d "Capsella bursa-pastoris (Ecocrop code 4164)". ecocrop. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.  
  11. ^ a b "Capsella bursa-pastoris - (L.)Medik.". Plants For A Future database report.  

See also

External links


Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From Wikispecies

Illustration C.bursa-pastoris.


Classification System: APG II (down to family level)

Main Page
Cladus: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Cladus: Angiospermae
Cladus: Eudicots
Cladus: core eudicots
Cladus: Rosids
Cladus: Eurosids II
Ordo: Brassicales
Familia: Brassicaceae
Genus: Capsella
Species: Capsella bursa-pastoris


Capsella bursa-pastoris (L.) Medik.

Vernacular names

Deutsch: Gewöhnliches Hirtentäschel, Taschenkraut, Schneiderbeutel, Schinkenkraut, Säcklichrut, Löffeli, Herzkraut, Bauernsenf
English: Shepherd's Purse
Español: Bolsa de Pastor, Cucliyo, Devanaera, Jaramago Blanco, Jarilla, Pajito Blanco, Pata de Gallo, Pimpájaros, Zurrón de Pastor
Français: Bourse à Pasteur, Molette à Berger, Capselle, Bourse de Capucin, Bourse de Juda, Moutarde de Mithriade, Bourse à Berger
Gàidhlig: An Sporan
Italiano: Borsapastore Comune
Nederlands: Herderstasje
日本語: ナズナ(薺)
Polski: Tasznik Pospolity
Русский: Пастушья сумка обыкновенная, Сумочник пастуший
Svenska: Lomme
Türkçe: Çobançantası
Українська: Грицики звичайні
中文: 荠菜
Wikimedia Commons For more multimedia, look at Capsella bursa-pastoris on Wikimedia Commons.

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