Shepherd's Purse

"A weed is simply a plant that you don't know what to do with."
Author Unknown
One of the common weeds in my springtime lawn is shepherd's purse (Capsella bursapastoris). The small white flowers on top of the long stalks turn into heart-shaped seed pods that supposedly resemble the leather pouches carried by ancient shepherds.

When young, the leaves remind me of dandelions, with many notches. They grow in a flat rosette and can be irregular - the leaves on one plant might or might not resemble each other.

I marked the flower heads in this photo, just to show that they are the same plant. Shepherd's purse grows in waste places and poor soil, in lawns, and as you can see here, between the bricks in our front path. The leaves are edible but should be used before the plant flowers.

Further up the flower stalk, the leaves are small and pointed.

The flowers give way to heart-shaped seed pods, which are also edible. I've tried them, they're rather tasteless but that's not a bad thing.

Shepherd's purse is part of the mustard family. You can add the leaves to spring salads or simmer them in soup; they can also be sautéed or steamed like other spring greens.

Shepherd's purse leaves are a good source of vitamin A, C, and K as well as iron and calcium, according to Wildman Steve Brill's website.

The plant is also used medicinally. Please note that its use is not recommended during pregnancy and it can interfere with certain medications, so do your homework before using it.

Remember, before using this or any other plant or herb, please research it fully. 
You are responsible for your own health. 

Other posts in this series:
Woolly Mullein
Wild Onions
How to Harvest Yarrow
Curly Dock
DIY Herb Field Guide

This post has been shared at some of my favorite blog hops.


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  1. I love the information I am finding on your site about the wild edibles... I use many of them, but I didn't know how to identify this one... I do use this one already dried and bought... so it is fun to realize I have that in my yard. Thank you. I did pin this also. :)

  2. Kathi at Oak Hill Homestead8:24 AM

    Learning to identify "weeds" is certainly eye-opening, isn't it?! Thank you for stopping by, Joy, and for the Pin.

  3. I wonder if it grows around here? I would love it if you would link up to Garden Tuesday today at Sidewalk Shoes!

  4. I had no idea. I'll bet many of us are surrounded by things we didn't know we could eat! ;0)

  5. Kathi at Oak Hill Homestead5:02 PM

    I think you're right, Daisy!

  6. I loved learning about this plant. I too wonder if I can find it growing where I live. Your blog is very informative.

  7. Kathi at Oak Hill Homestead9:40 PM

    Thank you, Lilly's Mom. This is the time to identify shepherd's purse easily, when the tall flower stalks are easy to find and the heart-shaped seed pods are distinctive. Good luck!

  8. This is very helpful! I have never foraged for this plant before, time to take a walk outside! Thank you for sharing this informative post on the Art of Home-Making Mondays :)

  9. This is very helpful! I have never foraged for this plant before, time to take a walk outside! Thank you for sharing this informative post on the Art of Home-Making Mondays :)

  10. Kathi at Oak Hill Homestead7:50 AM

    This is the time to go out and find it, Jes. Those flower stalks and heart-shaped seed pods are easy to find right now as well as easy to identify. Good luck!

  11. Thank you for sharing your wisdom and this information with us at Good Morning Mondays. Blessings

  12. Thanks for sharing information about this plant , also nice flower with good qualities.

  13. Kathi at Oak Hill Homestead1:44 PM

    You're welcome, Ajay. I'm glad it was helpful to you.

  14. I think this grows in one of the clearing in our woods. I'll be looking for it this summer! Thanks for the information.

    Thanks for linking up with Green Thumb Thursday! I hope you'll join us again this week!



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